Par Excellence - Islam - Topics

Understanding IslamIntroduction to IslamSome Basic InformationMuslim BeliefsAbout The Qur'aan IAbout The Qur'aan IIHistory of Muhammed (pbuh)History of ProphetsSermons of Muhammed (pbuh)40 AhadithSome Prominent MuslimsThe Holy Qur'aan
Source of Information: The Islamic Scholar Professional CD-ROM

Par Excellence - Islam - List of Topics In Selected Reference

Some Basic Information


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1. ISLAM AT A GLANCE

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ISLAM AND MUSLIMS
The Arabic word Islam means peace, submission and obedience. The religion of Islam is the complete acceptance of the teachings and guidance of God as revealed to His Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

A Muslim is one who believes in God and strives for total reorganisation of his life according to His revealed guidance and the sayings of the Prophet. He also works for building human society on the same basis. "Muhammadanism" is a misnomer for Islam and offends its very spirit.

The word 'Allah' is the proper name of God in Arabic. It is a unique term because it has no plural or feminine gender.


CONTINUITY OF MESSAGE
Islam is not a new religion. It is, in essence, the same message and guidance which Allah revealed to all Prophets:
Say, we believe in Allah and that which has been revealed to us, and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ismael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes and that which was given to Moses and Jesus and to other Prophets, from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we submit. (Qur'an 3:83).
The Message which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is Islam in its comprehensive, complete and final form.


THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM
There are five pillars of Islam
1. The declaration of faith: To bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His messenger to all human beings till the Day of Judgement. The Prophethood of Muhammad obliges the Muslims to follow his exemplary life as a model.

2. Prayers: Daily prayers are offered five times a day as a duty towards Allah. They strengthen and enliven the belief in Allah and inspire man to a higher morality. They purify the heart and prevent temptation towards wrongdoings and evils.

3. Fasting in the month of Ramadhan: The Muslims during the month of Ramadhan not only abstain from food, drink and sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset, but also from evil intentions and desires. It teaches love, sincerity and devotion. It develops a sound social conscience, patience, unselfishness and willpower.

4. Zakat: To pay annually 2.5% of one's net saving on which a year has passed as a religious duty and purifying sum to be spent on poorer sections of the community.

5. Pilgrimage to Makkah: It is to be performed once in a lifetime, if one can afford it financially and physically.

Besides these pillars every action which is done with the awareness that it fulfils the will of Allah is also considered an act of worship.

Islam enjoins faith in the Oneness and Sovereignty of Allah, which makes man aware of the meaningfulness of the Universe and of his place in it. This belief frees him from all fears and superstitions by making him conscious of the presence of the Almighty Allah and of man's obligations towards Him. This faith must be expressed and tested in action. Faith alone is not enough. Belief in one God requires that we look upon all humanity as one family under the universal Omnipotence of God - the Creator and Nourisher of all. Islam rejects the idea of a chosen people, making faith in God and good action the only way to heaven. Thus, a direct relationship is established with God, without any intercessor.


MAN: THE FREE AGENT
Man is the highest creation of God. He is equipped with the highest of potentialities. He is left relatively free in his will, action and choice. God has shown him the right path, and the life of Prophet Muhammad provides a perfect example. Man's success and salvation lies in following both. Islam teaches the sanctity of the human personality and confers equal rights upon all without any distinction of race, sex or colour.

The law of God, enunciated in the Qur'an and exemplified in the life of the Prophet, is supreme in all cases. It applies equally to the highest and the lowest, the prince and the peasant, the ruler and the ruled.


QUR’AN AND HADITH
The Qur'an is the last revealed word of God and the basic source of Islamic teachings and laws. The Qur'an deals with the bases of creeds, morality, history of humanity, worship, knowledge, wisdom, God-man relationship, and human relationship in all aspects. Comprehensive teachings on which, can be built sound systems of social justice, economics, politics, legislation, jurisprudence, law and international relations, are important contents of the Holy Qur'an.

Muhammad (PBUH) himself was an unlettered man who could not read or write. Yet, the Holy Qur'an was committed to memory and writing by his followers, under his supervision, during his lifetime. The original and complete text of the Qur'an is available to everybody in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed. Translations of the meaning into many languages are widely used. HADITH, the teachings, sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad, meticulously reported and collected by his devoted companions, explain and elaborate the Qur'anic verses.


CONCEPT OF WORSHIP
Islam does not teach nor accept mere ritualism. It emphasises intention and action. To worship God is to know Him and love Him, to act upon His law in every aspect of life, to enjoin goodness and forbid wrongdoing and oppression, to practise charity and justice and to serve Him by serving mankind. The Qur'an presents this concept in the following sublime manner:
"It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or the West, but righteous is he who believes in God and the Last day and the Angels and the Book and the Prophets; and gives his wealth for love of Him to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observe proper worship and pays the Zakah. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress; such are those who are sincere. Such are the God-fearing." (Qur'an 2: 177).


ISLAMIC WAY OF LIFE
Islam provides definite guidelines for all people to follow in all walks of life. The guidance it gives is comprehensive and includes the social, economic, political, moral and spiritual aspects of life. The Qur'an reminds man of the purpose of his life on earth, of his duties and obligations towards himself, his kith and kin, his community, his fellow human beings and his Creator. Man is given fundamental guidelines about a purposeful life and then he is left with the challenge of human existence before him so that he might put these high ideals into practice. In Islam, man's life is a wholesome, integrated unit and not a collection of fragmented, competitive parts. The sacred and secular are not separate parts of man: they are united in the nature of being human.


HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Muhammad (P.B.U.H) was born in the year 570 A.C. in the city of Makkah in Arabia in a noble family. He received the first revelation at the age of forty. As soon as he started preaching Islam, he and his followers were persecuted and had to face severe hardships. He was, therefore, commanded by God to migrate to Madinah, another city in Arabia. During a short span of 23 years, he completed his mission of prophethood and died at the age of 63. He led a perfect life and set an example for all human-beings as his life was the embodiment of the Qur'anic teachings.


ISLAM'S RATIONAL APPEAL
Islam in its clear and direct way of expressing truth has a tremendous amount of appeal for any seeker of knowledge. It is a solution for all the problems of life. It is a guide towards a better and complete life glorifying, in all its phases, God, the Almighty Creator and the Merciful Nourisher.


ISLAM - THE SOLUTION OF MODERN PROBLEMS
The Brotherhood of Man: A major problem which modern man faces is that of racism. The materially advanced nations can send man to the moon but they cannot stop man from hating and fighting his fellow man. Islam, over the last 1400 years, has shown in practice how racism can be ended. Every year, during Hajj, the Islamic miracle of real brotherhood of all races and nations can be seen in action.

The Family: The family which is the basic unit of civilisation is disintegrating in all western countries. Islam's family system brings into a fine equilibrium the rights of man, wife, children and relatives. Islam nourishes human unselfishness, generosity and love in a well-organised family system.


UNFRAGMENTED VIEW OF LIFE
Human beings live according to their view of life. The tragedy of secular societies is that they fail to connect the different aspects of life. The secular and the religious, the scientific and the spiritual seem to be in conflict. Islam puts an end to this conflict and brings harmony to man's vision of life.

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2. WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT THE QURAN

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Humanity has received the Divine guidance only through two channels: firstly the word of Allah, secondly the Prophets who were chosen by Allah to communicate His will to human-beings. These two things have always been going together and attempts to know the will of Allah by neglecting either of these two have always been misleading. The Hindus neglected their prophets and paid all attention to their books that proved only word puzzles which they ultimately lost. Similarly the Christians, in total disregard to the Book of Allah, attached all importance to Christ and thus not only elevated him to Divinity, but also lost the very essence of TAWHEED (monotheism) contained in the Bible.

As a matter of fact the main scriptures revealed before the Qur'an i.e., the Old Testament and the Gospel, came into book-form long after the days of the Prophets and that too in translation. This was because the followers of Moses and Jesus made no considerable efforts to preserve these Revelations during the life of their Prophets. Rather they were written long after their death. Thus what we now have in the form of the Bible (The Old as well as the New Testament) is translations of individuals' accounts of the original revelations which contain additions and deletions made by the followers of the said Prophets. On the contrary, the last revealed Book, the Qur'an, is extent in its original form. Allah Himself guaranteed its preservation and that is why the whole of the Qur'an was written during the life time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself though on separate pieces of palm leaves, parchments, bones etc.. Moreover, there were tens of thousands of the companions of the Prophet who memorised the whole Qur'an and the Prophet himself used to recite it to the angel Gabriel once a year and twice when he was about to die. Then the first Caliph, Abu Bakr entrusted the collection of the whole Qur'an in one volume to the Prophet's scribe, Zaid Ibn Thabit. This volume was with Abu Bakr till his death. Then it was with the second Caliph Umar and after him it came to Hafsa, the Prophet's wife. It was from this original copy that the third Caliph Uthman prepared several other copies and sent them to different Muslim territories.

The Qur'an was so meticulously preserved because it was to be the Book of guidance for humanity for all times to come. That is why it does not address the Arabs alone in whose language it was revealed. It speaks to man as a human being:
"O Man! What has seduced you from your Lord". The practicability of the Qur'anic teachings is established by the examples of Muhammad (PBUH) and the good Muslims throughout the ages. The distinctive approach of the Qur'an is that its instructions are aimed at the general welfare of man and are based on the possibilities within his reach. In all its dimensions the Qur'anic wisdom is conclusive. It neither condemns nor tortures the flesh nor does it neglect the soul. It does not humanise God nor does it deify man. Everything is carefully placed where it belongs in the total scheme of creation.

Actually the scholars who allege that Muhammad (PBUH) was the author of the Qur'an claim something which is humanly impossible. Could any person of the sixth century C.E. utter such scientific truths as the Qur'an contains? Could he describe the evolution of the embryo inside the uterus so accurately as we find it in modern science?

Secondly, is it logical to believe that Muhammad (PBUH), who up to the age of forty was marked only for his honesty and integrity, began all of a sudden the authorship of a book matchless in literary merit and the equivalent of which the whole legion of the Arab poets and orators of highest calibre could not produce? And lastly, is it justified to say that Muhammad (PBUH) who was known as AL-AMEEN (The Trustworthy) in his society and who is still admired by the non-Muslim scholars for his honesty and integrity, came forth with a false claim and on that falsehood could train thousands of men of character, integrity and honesty, who were able to establish the best human society on the surface of the earth?

Surely, any sincere and unbiased searcher of truth will come to believe that the Qur'an is the revealed Book of Allah.

Without necessarily agreeing with all what they said, we furnish here some opinions of important non-Muslim scholars about the Qur'an. Readers can easily see how the modern world is coming closer to reality regarding the Qur'an. We appeal to all open-minded scholars to study the Qur'an in the light of the aforementioned points. We are sure that any such attempt will convince the reader that the Qur'an could never be written by any human being.

"However often we turn to it [the Qur'an] at first disgusting us each time afresh, it soon attracts, astounds, and in the end enforces our reverence... Its style, in accordance with its contents and aim is stern, grand, terrible - ever and anon truly sublime -- Thus this book will go on exercising through all ages a most potent influence."
- Goethe, quoted in T.P. Hughes "Dictionary of Islam", p. 526.

"The Koran admittedly occupies an important position among the great religious books of the world. Though the youngest of the epoch-making works belonging to this class of literature, it yields to hardly any in the wonderful effect which it has produced on large masses of men. It has created an all but new phase of human thought and a fresh type of character. It first transformed a number of heterogeneous desert tribes of the Arabian peninsula into a nation of heroes, and then proceeded to create the vast politico-religious organisations of Muhammadan world which are one of the great forces with which Europe and the East have to reckon today."
- G. Margoliouth, Introduction to J.M. Rodwell's, The Koran, New York: Everyman's Library, 1977. p. VII.

"A work, then, which calls forth so powerful and seemingly incompatible emotions even in the distant reader - distant as to time, and still more so as mental development - a work which not only conquers the repugnance which he may begin its perusal, but changes this adverse feeling into astonishment and admiration, such a work must be a wonderful production of the human mind indeed and a problem of the highest interest to every thoughtful observer of the destinies of mankind."
- Dr Steingass, quoted in T.P. Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, pp. 526-7.

"The above observation makes the hypothesis advanced by those who see Muhammad as the author of the Qur'an untenable. How could a man, from being illiterate, become the most important author, in terms of literary merits, in the whole of Arabic literature? How could he then pronounce truths of a scientific nature that no other human-being could possibly have developed at that time, and all this without once making the slightest error in his pronouncement on the subject?"
- Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, 1978, p. 125.

"Here, therefore, its merits as a literary production should perhaps not be measured by some preconceived maxims of subjective and aesthetic taste, but by the effects which it produced in Muhammad's contemporaries and fellow countrymen. If it spoke so powerfully and convincingly to the hearts of his hearers as to weld hitherto centrifugal and antagonistic elements into one compact and well organised body, animated by ideas far beyond those which had until now ruled the Arabian mind, then its eloquence was perfect, simply because it created a civilised nation out of savage tribes, and shot a fresh woof into the old warp of history."
- Dr. Steingass, quoted in Huges, Dictionary of Islam, p. 528.

"In making the present attempt to improve on the performance of my predecessors, and to produce something which might be accepted as echoing however faintly the sublime rhetoric of the Arabic Koran, I have been at pain to study the intricate and richly varied rhythms which - apart from the message itself - constitute the Koran's undeniable claim to rank amongst the greatest literary masterpieces of mankind. This very characteristic feature - that inimitable symphony, as the believing Pickthall described his Holy Book, the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy' - has been almost totally ignored by previous translators; it is therefore not surprising that what they have wrought sounds dull and flat indeed in comparison with the splendidly decorated original."
-Arthur J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted, London: Oxford University Press, 1964, p. X.

"A totally objective examination of it [the Qur'an] in the light of modern knowledge, leads us to recognise the agreement between the two, as has been already noted on repeated occasions. It makes us deem it quite unthinkable for a man of Muhammad's time to have been the author of such statements, on account of the state of knowledge in his day. Such considerations are part of what gives the Qur'anic Revelation its unique place, and forces the impartial scientists to admit his inability to provide an explanation which calls solely upon materialistic reasoning."
- Maurice Bucaille, The Qur'an and Modern Science, 1981, p. 18

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3. WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT ISLAM

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The Islam that was revealed to Muhammad (PBUH), is the continuation and culmination of all the preceding revealed religions and hence it is for all times and all peoples. This status of Islam is sustained by glaring facts. Firstly, there is no other revealed book extent in the same form and content as it was revealed. Secondly, no other revealed religion has any convincing claim to provide guidance in all walks of human life for all times. But Islam addresses humanity at large and offers basic guidance regarding all human problems. Moreover, it has withstood the test of fourteen hundred years and has all the potentialities of establishing an ideal society as it did under the leadership of the last Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

It was a miracle that Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) could win even his toughest enemies to the fold of Islam without adequate material resources. Worshippers of idols, blind followers of the ways of forefathers promoters of tribal feuds, abusers of human dignity and blood, became the most disciplined nation under the guidance of Islam and its Prophet (P.B.U.H.). Islam opened before them vistas of spiritual heights and human dignity by declaring righteousness as the sole criterion of merit and honour. Islam shaped their social, cultural, moral and commercial life with basic laws and principles which are most in conformity with human nature and hence applicable in all times as human nature does not change.

It is so unfortunate that the Christian West instead of sincerely trying to understand the phenomenal success of Islam during its earlier time, considered it as a rival religion. During the centuries of the Crusades this trend gained much force and impetus and huge literature was produced to tarnish the image of Islam. But Islam has begun to unfold its genuineness to the modern scholars whose bold and objective observations on Islam belie all the charges levelled against it by the so-called unbiased orientalists.

Here we furnish some observations on Islam by great and acknowledged non-Muslim scholars of modern time. Truth needs no advocates to plead on its behalf. But the prolonged malicious propaganda against Islam has created great confusion even in the minds of free and objective thinkers.

We hope that the following observations would contribute to initiating an objective evaluation of Islam.
It (Islam) replaced monkishness by manliness. It gives hope to the slave, brotherhood to mankind, and recognition of the fundamental facts of human nature.

Canon Taylor, Paper read before the Church Congress at Walverhamton, Oct. 7, 1887, Quoted by Arnond in The Preaching of Islam, p.p. 71-72.

Sense of justice is one of the most wonderful ideals of Islam, because as I read in the Qur'an I find those dynamic principles of life, not mystic but practical ethics for the daily conduct of life suited to the whole world.
Saronjini Naidu, Lectures on "The Ideals of Islam" see Speeches and Writings of Sarojini Naidu, Madras, 1918, p. 167.

History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.
De Lacy O'Leary, Islam at the Crossroads, London, 1923 p.8.

But Islam has a still further service to render to the cause of humanity. It stands after all nearer to the real East than Europe does, and it possesses a magnificent tradition of inter-racial understanding and cooperation. No other society has such a record of success in uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity, and of endeavours so many and so various races of mankind... Islam has still the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If ever the opposition of the great societies of East and West is to be replaced by cooperation, the mediation of Islam is an indispensable condition. In its hands lies very largely the solution of the problem with which Europe is faced in its relation with the East. If they unite, the hope of a peaceful issue is immeasurably enhanced. But if Europe, by rejecting the cooperation of Islam, throws it into the arms of its rivals, the issue can only be disastrous for both.
H.A.R. Gibb, Whither Islam, London, 1932, p. 379

I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him - the wonderful man and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Saviour of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.
G. B. Shaw, The Genuine Islam, Vol. 1, No. 81936

The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue.
A.J. Toynbee, Civilization on Trial, New York, 1948, p. 205.

The rise of Islam is perhaps the most amazing event in human history. Springing from a land and previously negligible people, Islam spread within a century over half the earth, shattering great empires, overthrowing long-established religions, remoulding the souls of races, and building up a whole new world - world of Islam.

The closer we examine this development the more extraordinary does it appear. The other great religions won their way slowly, by painful struggle and finally triumphed with the aid of powerful monarchs converted to the new faith. Christianity had its Constantine, Budhism its Asoka, and Zoroastrianism its Cyrus, each lending to his chosen cult the mighty force of secular authority, Not so Islam. Arising in a desert land sparsely inhabited by a nomad race previously undistinguished in human annals. Islam rallied forth on its great adventure with the slenderest human backing and against the heavies material odds. Yet Islam triumphed with seemingly miraculous ease, and a couple of generations saw the Fiery Crescent borne victorious from the Pyrenees to the Himalayas and from the desert of Central Asia to the deserts of Central Africa..
A. M. L. Stoddard, quoted in Islam - The Religion of All Prophets, Begum Bawani Waqf, Karachi, Pakistan p. 56

Islam is a religion that is essentially rationalistic in the widest sense of this term considered etymologically and historically. The definition of rationalism as a system that bases religious beliefs on principles furnished by the reason applies to it exactly.. It cannot be denied that many doctrines and systems of theology and also many superstitions, from the worship of saints to the use of rosaries and amulets, have become grafted on the main trunk of Muslim creed. But in spite of the rich development, in every sense of the term, of the teachings of the Prophet, the Qur'an has invariably kept its place as the fundamental starting point, and the dogma of unity of God has always been proclaimed therein with a grandeur, a majesty, an invariable purity and with a note of sure conviction, which it is hard to find surpassed outside the pale of Islam. This fidelity to the fundamental dogma of the religion, the elemental simplicity of the formula in which it is enunciated, the proof that it gains from the fervid conviction of the missionaries who propagate it, are so many causes to explain the success of Muhammadan missionary efforts. A creed so precise, so stripped of all theological complexities and consequently so accessible to the ordinary understanding might be expected to possess and does indeed possess a marvellous power of winning its way into the consciences of men.
Edward Montet, "La Propagande Chretienne et ses Adversaries Musulmans" Paris 1890, quoted by T. W. Arnold in The Preaching of Islam, London 1913, pp. 413-414

I am not a Muslim in the usual sense, though I hope I am a "Muslim" as one 'surrendered to God', but I believe that embedded in the Qur'an and other expressions of the Islamic vision are vast stores of divine truth from which I and other occidentals have still much to learn, and 'Islam is certainly a strong contender for the supplying of the basic framework of the one religion of the future'.
W. Montgomery Watt, Islam and Christianity Today, London 1983, p. IX.

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4. WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT MUHAMMAD (PBUH)

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During the centuries of the crusades, all sorts of slanders were invented against the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). But with the birth of the modern age, marked with religious tolerance and freedom of thought, there has been a great change in the approach of Western authors in their delineation of his life and character. The views of some non-Muslim scholars regarding Prophet Muhammad, given at the end, justify this opinion.

But the West has still to go a step forward to discover the greatest reality about Muhammad and that is his being the true and the last Prophet of God for the whole humanity. In spite of all its objectivity and enlightenment there has been no sincere and objective attempt by the East to understand the Prophethood of Muhammad (P.B.U.H.). It is so strange that very glowing tributes are paid to him for his integrity and achievement but his claim of being the Prophet of God has been rejected explicitly or implicitly. It is here that a searching of the heart is required, and a review of the so-called objectivity is needed. The following glaring facts from the life of Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) have been furnished to facilitate an unbiased, logical and objective decision regarding his Prophethood.

Up to the age of forty Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) was not known as a statesman, a preacher or an orator. He was never seen discussing the principles of metaphysics, ethics, law, politics, economics or sociology. No doubt he possessed an excellent character, charming manners and was highly cultured. Yet there was nothing so deeply striking and so radically extraordinary in him that would make men expect something great and revolutionary from him in the future. But when he came out of the Cave of Hira with a new message, he was completely transformed. Is it possible for such a person of the above qualities to turn all of a sudden 'an impostor' and claim to be the Prophet of Allah and invite all the rage of his people? One might ask: for what reason did he suffer all those hardships? His people offered to accept him as their King and to lay all the riches of the land at his feet if only he would leave the preaching of his religion. But he chose to refuse their tempting offers and go on preaching his religion single-handedly in face of all kinds of insults, social boycott and even physical assault by his own people. Was it not only God's support and his firm will to disseminate the message of Allah and his deep-rooted belief that ultimately Islam would emerge as the only way of life for the humanity, that he stood like a mountain in the face of all oppositions and conspiracies to eliminate him? Furthermore. Had he come with a design of rivalry with the Christians and the Jews, why should he have made belief in Jesus Christ and Moses and other Prophets of God (peace be upon them), a basic requirement of faith without which no one could be a Muslim?

Is it not an incontrovertible proof of his Prophethood that in spite of being unlettered and having led a very normal and quiet life for forty years, when he began preaching his message, all of Arabia stood in awe and wonder and was bewitched by his wonderful eloquence and oratory? It was so matchless that the whole legion of Arab poets, preachers and orators of highest calibre failed to bring forth its equivalent. And above all, how could he then pronounce truths of a scientific nature contained in the Qur'an that no other human-being could possibly have developed at that time?

Last but not the least, why did he lead a hard life even after gaining power and authority? Just ponder over the words he uttered while dying: "We the community of the Prophets are not inherited. Whatever we leave is for charity".

As a matter of fact Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) is the last link of the chain of Prophets sent in different lands and times since the very beginning of the human life on this planet.

If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples and dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and souls ..... his forbearance in victory, his ambition, which was entirely devoted to one idea and in no manner striving for an empire; his endless prayers, his mystic conversations with God, his death and his triumph after death; all these attest not to an important but to a firm conviction which gave him the power to restore a dogma. This dogma was twofold, the unity of God and the immateriality of God; the former telling what God is, the latter telling what God is not; the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the other starting an idea with the words.

Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we many well ask, is there any man greater than he?
Lamartine, Histoire de la Turquie, Paris 1854 Vol II, pp. 276-77

It is not the propagation but the permanency of his religion that deserves our wonder; the same pure and perfect impression which he engraved at Mecca and Medina is preserved, after the revolutions of twelve centuries by the Indian, the African and the Turkish proselytes of the Koran... The Mahomedans have uniformly withstood the temptation of reducing the object of their faith and devotion to a level with the senses and imaginations of man. 'I believe in One God and Mahomet the Apostle of God', is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honours of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue; and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion.
Edward Gibbon and Simon Ocklay, History of the Saracen Empire, London 1870, p. 54.

He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without Pope's pretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar: without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue; if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by the right divine, it was Mohammad, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports.
Bosworth Smith, Mohammd and Mohammadanism, London 1874, p. 92.

It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher.
Annie Besant, The Life and Teachings of Muhammad, Madras 1932, p. 4

His readiness to undergo persecution for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement - all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad.
W. Montgomery, Mohammad at Mecca, Oxford, 1953, p. 52

Muhammad, the inspired man who founded Islam, was born about A.D. 570 into an Arabian tribe that worshipped idols. Orphaned at birth, he was always particularly solicitous of the poor and needy, the widow and the orphan, the slave and the downtrodden. At twenty he was already a successful businessman, and soon became director of camel caravans for a wealthy widow. When he reached twenty-five his employer, recognising his merit, proposed marriage. Even though she was fifteen years older, he married her, and as long as she lived remained a devoted husband.

Like almost every major prophet before him, Muhammad fought shy of serving as the transmitter of God's word, sensing his own inadequacy. But the angel commanded 'Read'. So far as we know, Muhammad was unable to read or write, but he began to dictate those inspired words which would soon revolutionise a large segment of the earth: "There is one God".

In all things Muhammad was profoundly practical. When his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred, and rumours of God's personal condolence quickly arose. Whereupon Muhammad is said to have announced, "An eclipse is a phenomenon of nature. It is foolish to attribute such things to the death or birth of a human-being".

At Muhammad's own death an attempt was made to deify him, but the man who was to become his administrative successor killed the hysteria with one of the noblest speeches in religious history: 'If there are any among you who worshipped Muhammad, he is dead. But if it is God you worshipped, He lives for ever'.
James A. Michener, "Islam: the Misunderstood Religion", in the Reader's Digest (American Edition) for May, 1955, pp. 68-70.

My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level.
Michael H. Hart, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, New York: Hart Publishing Company, Inc. 1978, p. 33.

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5. MORAL SYSTEM OF ISLAM

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Islam has laid down some universal fundamental rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances. To achieve these rights Islam provides not only legal safeguards but also a very effective moral system. Thus whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society is morally good in Islam and whatever is injurious is morally bad. Islam attaches so much importance to the love of God and love of man that it warns against too much of formalism. We read in the Qur'an:
It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask; and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayers, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which you made; and to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing. (2:177)

We are given a beautiful description of the righteous and God-fearing man in these verses. He should obey salutary regulations, but he should fix his gaze on the love of God and the love of his fellow-men.

We are given four guidelines:
a) Our faith should be true and sincere

b) We must be prepared to show it in deeds of charity to our fellow-men

c) We must be good citizens, supporting social organisations and

d) Our own individual soul must be firm and unshaken in all circumstances.

This is the standard by which a particular mode of conduct is judged and classified as good or bad. This standard of judgement provides the nucleus around which the whole moral conduct should revolve. Before laying down any moral injunctions, Islam seeks to firmly implant in man's heart the conviction that his dealings are with God who sees him at all times and in all places; that he may hide himself from the whole world but not from Him; that he may deceive everyone but cannot deceive God; that he can flee from the clutches of anyone else but not from God's.

Thus, by setting God's pleasure as the objective of man's life, Islam has furnished the highest possible standard of morality. This is bound to provide limitless avenues for the moral evolution of humanity. By making Divine revelations as the primary source of knowledge it gives permanence and stability to the moral standards which afford reasonable scope for genuine adjustments, adaptations and innovations though not for perversions, wild variation, atomistic relativism or moral fluidity. It provides a sanction to morality in the love and fear of God, which will impel man to obey the moral law even without any external pressure. Through belief in God and the Day of Judgement it furnishes a force which enables a person to adopt the moral conduct with earnestness and sincerity, with all the devotion of heart and soul.

It does not, through a false sense of originality and innovation, provide any novel moral virtues nor does it seek to minimise the importance of the well-known moral norms, nor does it give exaggerated importance to some and neglect others without cause. It takes up all the commonly known moral virtues and with a sense of balance and proportion it assigns a suitable place and function to each one of them in the total scheme of life. It widens the scope of man's individual and collective life - his domestic associations, his civic conduct, and his activities in the political, economic, legal, educational, and social realms. It covers his life from home to society, from the dining-table to the battlefield and peace conferences, literally from the cradle to the grave. In short, no sphere of life is exempt from the universal and comprehensive application of the moral principles of Islam. It makes morality reign supreme and ensures that the affairs of life, instead of dominated by selfish desires and petty interests, should be regulated by norms of morality.

It stipulates for man a system of life which is based on all good and is free from all evil. It invokes the people, not only to practice virtue, but also to establish virtue and eradicate vice, to bid good and forbid wrong. It requires the verdict of conscience should prevail and virtue must not be subdued to play second fiddle to evil. Those who respond to this call are gathered together into a community and given the name Muslim. And the singular object underlying the formation of this community (Ummah) is that it should make an organised effort to establish and enforce goodness and suppress and eradicate evil.

Here we furnish some basic moral teachings of Islam for various aspects of a Muslim's life. They cover the broad spectrum of personal moral conduct of a Muslim as well as his social responsibilities.


God-Consciousness
The Qur'an mentions it as the highest quality of a Muslim:
The most honourable among you in the sight of God is the one who is most God-conscious. (49:13)

Humility, modesty, control of passions and desires, truthfulness, integrity, patience, steadfastness, and fulfilling one's promises are moral values which are emphasised again and again in the Qur'an. We read in the Qur'an:

And God loves those who are firm and steadfast. (3:146)

And vie with one another to attain to your Sustainer's forgiveness and to a Paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, which awaits the God-conscious, who spend for charity in time of plenty and in time of hardship, and restrain their anger, and pardon their fellow men, for God loves those who do good. (3:133-134)

Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong; and bear patiently whatever may befall you; for this is true constancy. And do not swell your cheek (with pride) at men, nor walk in insolence on the earth, for God does not love any man proud and boastful. And be moderate in you pace and lower you voice; for the harshest of sounds, indeed, is the braying of the ass. (31:18-19)

In a way which summarises the moral behaviour of a Muslim, the prophet (PBUH) said:
My Sustainer has given me nine commands: to remain conscious of God, whether in private or in public; to speak justly, whether angry or pleased; to show moderation both when poor and when rich; to reunite friendship with those who have broken it off with me; to give to him who refuses me; that my silence should be occupied with thought; that my looking should be an admonition; and that I should command what is right.


Social Responsibilities
The teachings of Islam concerning social responsibilities are based on kindness and consideration of others. Since a broad injunction to be kind is likely to be ignored in specific situations, Islam lays emphasis on specific acts of kindness and defines the responsibilities and rights of various relationships. In a widening circle of relationship, then, our first obligation is to our immediate family - parents, husband or wife and children, then to other relatives, neighbours, friends and acquaintances, orphans and widows, the needy of the community, our fellow Muslims, all our fellow human beings and animals.


Parents
Respect and care for parents is very much stressed in the Islamic teaching and is a very important part of a Muslim's expression of faith.

Your Sustainer has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your lifetime, do not say to them a word of contempt nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: My Sustainer! Bestow on them Your mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood. (17:23-24)


Other Relatives
And render to the relatives their due rights, as (also) to those in need, and to the traveller; and do not squander your wealth in the manner of a spendthrift. (17:26)


Neighbours
The Prophet (PBUH) has said:
"He is not a believer who eats his fill when his neighbour beside him is hungry." and:

"He does not believe whose neighbours are not safe from his injurious conduct."

Actually, according to the Qur'an and Sunnah a Muslim has to discharge his moral responsibility not only to his parents, relatives and neighbours but to the entire mankind, animals and useful trees and plants. For example, hunting of birds and animals for the sake of game is not permitted. Similarly cutting trees and plants which yield fruit is forbidden unless there is a very pressing need for it.

Thus, on the basic moral characteristics, Islam builds a higher system of morality by virtue of which mankind can realise its greatest potential. Islam purifies the soul from self-seeking egotism, tyranny, wantonness and indiscipline. It creates God-fearing men, devoted to their ideals, possessed of piety, abstinence and discipline and uncompromising with falsehood. It induces feelings of moral responsibility and fosters the capacity for self-control. Islam generates kindness, generosity, mercy, sympathy, peace, disinterested goodwill, scrupulous fairness and truthfulness towards all creation in all situations. It nourishes noble qualities from which only good may be expected.

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6. LIFE AFTER DEATH

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The question whether there is a life after death does not fall under the jurisdiction of science as science is concerned only with classification and analysis of sense data. Moreover, man has been busy with scientific enquiries and research, in the modern sense of the term, only for the last few centuries, while he has been familiar with the concept of life after death since times immemorial. All the prophets of God called their people to worship God and to believe in life after death. They laid so much emphasis on the belief in life after death that even a slight doubt in it meant denying god and made all other beliefs meaningless. The very fact that all the prophets of God have dealt with this metaphysical question of life after death so confidently and so uniformly - the gap between their ages being thousands of years - goes to prove that the source of their knowledge of life after death as proclaimed by them all, was the same, i.e., Divine revelation. We also know that these prophets of God were greatly opposed by their people, mainly on the issue of life after death as their people thought it impossible. But in spite of opposition the prophets won so many sincere followers. The question arises what made those followers forsake the established beliefs, traditions and customs of their forefathers notwithstanding the risk of being totally alienated from their own community? The simple answer is: they made use of their faculties of mind and heart and realised the truth. Did they realise the truth through perceptual consciousness? Not so, as perceptual experience of life after death is impossible. Actually God has given man besides perceptual consciousness, rational, aesthetic and moral consciousness too. It is this consciousness that guides man regarding realities that cannot be verified through sensory data. That is why all the prophets of God while calling people to believe in God and life after death, appeal to aesthetic, moral and rational consciousness of man. For example, when the idolators of Makkah denied even the possibility of life after death, the Qur'an exposed the weakness of their stand by advancing very logical and rational arguments in support of it:

And he has coined us a similitude, and has forgotten the fact of his creation, saying: Who will revive these bones when they have rotten away?

Say: He will revive them who produced them at the first, for He is the knower of every creation. Who has appointed for you fire from the green tree, and behold! You kindle from it.

Is not He who created the heavens and the earth, able to create the like of them? Yes, and He is indeed the Supreme Creator, the All-knowing. (36:78-81)

At another occasion the Qur'an very clearly says that the disbelievers have no sound basis for their denial of life after death. It is based on pure conjectures:

They say, 'There is nothing but our present life; we die, and we live, and nothing but Time destroys us'. Of that they have no knowledge; they merely conjecture. And when our revelations are recited to them, their only argument is that they say, 'Bring us our fathers, if you speak truly'. (45:24-25)

Surely God will raise all the dead. But God has His own plan of things. A day will come when the whole universe will be destroyed and then again the dead will be resurrected to stand before God. That day will be the beginning of the life that will never end, and that Day every person will be rewarded by God according to his or her good or evil deed.

The explanation that the Qur'an gives about the necessity of life after death is what moral consciousness of man demands. Actually if there is no life after death, the very belief in God becomes irrelevant or even if one believes in God, that would be an unjust and indifferent God: having once created man not concerned with his fate. Surely, God is just. He will punish the tyrants whose crimes are beyond count: having killed hundreds of innocent persons, created great corruptions in the society, enslaved numerous persons to serve their whims etc.. Since man has a very short lifespan in this world, and the physical world too being not eternal, punishments or rewards equal to the evil or noble deeds of persons are not possible here. The Qur'an very emphatically states that the Day of Judgement must come and God will decide about the fate of each soul according to his or her record of deeds:

Those who disbelieve say: The Hour will never come unto us. Say: Nay, by my Lord, but it is coming unto you surely. (He is) the Knower of the Unseen. Not an atom's weight, or less than that or greater, escapes Him in the heavens or in the earth, but it is in a clear Record. That He may reward those who believe and do good works. For them is pardon and a rich provision.

But those who strive against our revelations, challenging (Us), theirs will be a painful doom of wrath. (34:3-5)

The Day of Resurrection will be the Day when God's attributes of Justice and Mercy will be in full manifestation. God will shower His mercy on those who suffered for His sake in the worldly life, believing that an eternal bliss was awaiting them. But those who abused the bounties of God, caring nothing for the life to come, will be in the most miserable state. Drawing a comparison between them, the Qur'an says:

Is he, then, to whom we have promised a goodly promise the fulfilment of which he will meet, like the one whom We have provided with the good things of this life, and then on the Day of Resurrection he will be of those who will be arraigned before God? (28:61)

The Qur'an also states that this worldly life is a preparation for the eternal life after death. But those who deny it become slaves of their passions and desires, make fun of virtuous and God-conscious persons. Such persons realise their folly only at the time of their death and wish to be given a further chance in the world but in vain. Their miserable state at the time of death, and the horror of the day of Judgement, and the eternal bliss guaranteed to the sincere believers are very beautifully mentioned in the following verses of the Holy Qur'an:

Until, when death comes unto one of them, he says, 'My Lord send me back, that I may do right in that which I have left behind! 'But nay! It is but a barrier until the day when they are raised. And when the Trumpet is blown there will be no kinship among them that day, nor will they ask of one another. Then those whose scales are heavy, they are successful. And those whose scales are light are those who lose their souls, in hell abiding, the fire burns their faces and they are glum therein. (23:99-104).

The belief in life after death not only guarantees success in the Hereafter but also makes this world full of peace and happiness by making individuals most responsible and dutifull in their activities.

Think of the people of Arabia. Gambling, wine, tribal feuds, plundering and murdering were their main traits when they had no belief in life after death. But as soon as they accepted the belief in the One God and life after death they became the most disciplined nation of the world. They gave up their vices, helped each other in hours of need, and settled all their disputes on the basis of justice and equality. Similarly the denial of life after death has its consequences not only in the Hereafter but also in this world. When a nation as a whole denies it, all kinds of evils and corruptions become rampant in that society and ultimately it is destroyed. The Qur'an mentions the terrible end of 'Aad, Thamud and the Pharaoh in some detail:

(The tribes of) Thamud and 'Aad disbelieved in the judgement to come. As for Thamud, they were destroyed by the lightning, and as for 'Aad, they were destroyed by a fierce roaring wind, which He imposed on them for seven long nights and eight long days so that you might see the people laid prostrate in it as if they were the stumps of fallen down palm trees.

Now do you see remnant of them? Pharaoh likewise and those before him, and the subverted cities. They committed errors and they rebelled against the Messenger of their Lord, and He seized them with a surpassing grip. Lo, when the waters rose, We bore you in the running ship that We might make it a reminder for you and for heeding ears to hold. So when the Trumpet is blown with a single blast and the earth and the mountains are lifted up and crushed with a single blow, then on that day, the Terror shall come to pass, and the heaven shall be split for upon that day it shall be very frail. Then as for him who is given his book in his right hand, he shall say 'Here take and read my book! Certainly I thought that I should encounter my reckoning. 'So he shall be in a pleasing life in a lofty garden, its clusters nigh to gather.

'Eat and drink with wholesome appetite for that you did long ago, in the days gone by'.

But as for him who is given his book in his left hand, he shall say: 'Would that I had not been given my book and not known my reckoning! Would it had been the end!

My wealth has not availed me, my authority is gone from me'. (69:4-39)

Thus there are very convincing reasons to believe in life after death.

Firstly, all the prophets of God have called their people to believe in it.

Secondly, whenever a human society is built on the basis of this belief, it has been the most ideal and peaceful society, free of social and moral evils.

Thirdly, history bears witness that whenever this belief is rejected collectively by a group of people in spite of the repeated warning of the prophet, the group as a whole has been punished by God even in this world.

Fourthly, moral, aesthetic and rational faculties of man endorse the possibility of life after death.

Fifthly, God's attributes of Justice and Mercy have no meaning if there is no life after death.

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7. PROPHETHOOD IN ISLAM

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Prophethood is not unknown to heavenly revealed religions, such as Judaism and Christianity. In Islam, however, it has a special status and significance.

According to Islam, Allah created man for a noble purpose: to worship Him and lead a virtuous life based on His teachings and guidance. How would man know his role and the purpose of his existence unless he received clear and practical instructions of what Allah wants him to do? Here comes the need prophethood. Thus Allah had chosen from every nation a prophet or more to convey His Message to people.

One might ask; How were the prophets chosen and who were entitled to this great honour?

Prophethood is Allah's blessing and favour that He may bestow on whom He wills. However, from surveying the various messengers throughout history, three features of a prophet may be recognised:

1. He is the best in his community morally and intellectually. It is necessary because the Prophet's (P.B.U.H.) life serves as a model for his followers. His personality should attract people to accept his message rather than drive them away by his imperfect character. After receiving the message he is infallible. That is, he would not commit any sin. He might make some minor mistakes which are usually corrected by revelation.

2. He is supported by miracles to prove that he is not an imposter. Those miracles are granted by the power and permission of God and are usually in the field in which his people excel and are recognised as superiors. We might illustrate this by quoting the major miracles of the three prophets of the major world religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Moses' contemporaries were excellent in magic. So his major miracle was to defeat the best magicians of Egypt of his days. Jesus's contemporaries were recognised as skilful physicians. Therefore his miracles were to raise the dead and cure the incurable diseases. The Arabs, the contemporaries of the prophet Muhammed, were known for their eloquence and magnificent poetry. So Prophet Muhammed's (P.B.U.H.) major miracle was the Qur'an, the equivalent of which the whole legion of the Arab poets and orators could not produce despite the repeated challenge from the Qur'an itself. Again Muhammad's miracle has something special about it. All previous miracles were limited by time and place, i.e., they were shown to specific people at a specific time. Not so the miracle of Muhammad-the Qur'an. It is a universal and everlasting miracle. Previous generations witnessed it and future generations will witness its miraculous nature in term of its style, content and spiritual uplifting. These still can be tested and will thereby prove the divine origin of the Qur'an.

3. Every prophet states clearly that what he receives is not of his own but from God for the well-being of mankind. He also confirms what was revealed before him and what may be revealed after him. A prophet does this to show that he is simply conveying the message which is entrusted to him by the One True God of all people in all ages. So the message is one essence and for the same purpose. Therefore, it should not deviate from what was revealed before him or what might come after him.

Prophets are necessary for conveying God's instructions and guidance to mankind. We have no way of knowing why we were created. What will happen to us after death? Is there any life after death? Are we accountable for our actions? In other words, is there any reward or punishment for our deeds in this life? These and so many other questions about God, angels, paradise, hell etc.. is only known to the Creator and Knower of the unseen. Those answers must be authentic and must be brought by individuals whom we trust and respect. That is why, messengers are the select of their societies in terms of moral conducts and intellectual abilities.

Hence the slanderous Biblical stories about some of the great prophets are not accepted by Muslims. As for example, when Lot is reported to have committed fornication while drunk, with his daughters, or that David sent one of his leaders to death to marry his wife. Prophets to Muslims are greater that what these stories indicate. These stories can not be true from the Islamic point of view.

The prophets are also miraculously supported by God and instructed by Him to affirm the continuity of the message.

The content of the prophet's message to mankind can be summarised as follows:

a) Clear concept about God: His attributes, His creation, what should and should not be ascribed to Him.

b) Clear idea about the unseen world, the angles, jinn (spirits), Paradise and Hell.

c) Why has God created us? What does He want from us what the reward or punishment for obeying or disobeying Him?

d) How to run our societies according to His will? That is, clear instructions and laws that, when applied correctly and honestly, will result in a happy and ideal society.

It is clear from the above discussions that there is no substitute for prophets. Even nowadays with the advancement of science, the only authentic source of information about the supernatural world is revelation. Guidance can neither be obtained from science nor from mystic experience. The first is too materialistic and too limited; the second is too subjective and frequently too misleading.

Now one might ask:
How many prophets had God sent to humanity? We do not know for sure. Some Muslims scholars have suggested 240 thousand prophets. We are only sure of what is clearly mentioned in the Qur'an, i.e. God has sent a messenger (or more) to every nation. That is because it is one of God's principles that He will never call a people to account unless He has made clear to them what to do and what not to do. The Qur'an mentions the names of 25 prophets and indicates that there have been others who were not mentioned to the prophet Muhammad. These 25 include Noah, the man of the Ark, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. These five are the greatest among God's messengers. They are called 'the resolute' prophets.

An outstanding aspect of the Islamic belief in prophethood is that Muslims believe in and respect all the messengers of God with no exceptions. Since all the prophets came from the same One God for the same purpose - to lead mankind to God- belief in them all is essential and logical; accepting some and rejecting others has to be based on misconceptions of the prophet's role or on racial bias. The Muslims are the only people in the world who consider the belief in the prophets of God an article of faith. Thus the Jews reject Jesus Christ and Muhammad (PBUH), the Christians reject Muhammad (PBUH) and in reality reject Moses because they do not abide by his laws. The Muslims accept them all as messengers of God who brought guidance to mankind. However, the revelation which those prophets brought from God had been tampered with in one way or the other. The belief in all the messengers of God is enjoined on the Muslims by the Qur'an:
Say (O Muslims):We believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ismael, and Isaac and Jacob, and their children, and that which Moses and Jesus received and that the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them and unto Him we have surrendered. (2:136)

The Qur'an continues in the following verses to instruct the Muslims that this is the true and impartial belief. If other nations believe in the same they are following the right track. If they do not, they must be following their own whims and biases and God will take care of them. Thus we read:
And if they believe in what you believe, then are they rightly guided. But if they turn away, then they are in disunity, and Allah will suffice you against them. He is the Hearer, the Knower. This is God's religion and Who is better than God in religion? (2:1137-38)

There are, at least, two important points related to prophethood that need to be clarified. These points concern the roles of Jesus and Muhammad as prophets who are usually misunderstood.

The Qur'anic account of Jesus emphatically rejects the concept of his 'Divinity' and 'Divine Sonship' and presents him as one of the great prophets of God. The Qur'an makes it clear that the birth of Jesus without a father does not make him a son of God and mentions in this respect Adam who was created by God without a father and mother.

Truly the likeness of Jesus, in God's sight, is as Adam's likeness; He created him of dust, then said He unto him, "Be", and he was (3:59).

Like other prophets Jesus also performed miracles. For example, he raised the dead and cured the blind and the lepers, but while showing these miracles he always made it clear that it was all from God.

Actually, the misconceptions about the personality and mission of Jesus found a way among his followers because the Divine message that he preached was not recorded during his presence in the world, rather it was recorded after a lapse of about hundred years. According to the Qur'an he was sent to the children of Israel; he confirmed the validity of the Torah which was revealed to Moses and he also brought the glad tidings of a final messenger after him.

And when Jesus son of Mary said, 'children of Israel, I am indeed the Messenger to you, confirming the Torah that is before me, and giving good tidings of a Messenger who shall come after me, whose name shall be the praised one. (61:6)
(the underlined portion is the translation of Ahmad which is Prophet Muhammad's name).

However, the majority of the Jews rejected his ministry. They plotted against his life and in their opinion crucified him. But the Qur'an refutes this opinion and says that they neither killed him nor crucified him, rather he was raised up to God. There is a verse in the Qur'an, which implied that Jesus will come back and all the Christians and Jews will believe in him before he dies. This is also supported by authentic sayings of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The last prophet of God, Muhammad, was born in Arabia in the sixth century C.E. Up to the age of forty, people of Makkah knew him only as a man of excellent character and cultured manners and called him AL-AMEEN (the trustworthy). He also did not know that he was soon to be made a prophet and receiver of revelation from God. He called the idolators of Makkah to worship the only one God and accept him as His prophet. The revelation that he received was preserved in his lifetime in the memory of his companions and was also recorded on pieces of palm leaves, leather etc. Thus the Qur'an that is found today is the same that was revealed to him, not a syllable of it has been altered as God Himself has guaranteed its preservation. This Qur'an claims to be the book of guidance for whole humanity for all times, and mentions Muhammad as the last prophet of God.

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8. CONCEPT OF GOD IN ISLAM

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It is a known fact that every language has one or more terms that are used in reference to God and sometimes to lesser deities. This is not the case with Allah. Allah is the personal name of the One true God. Nothing else can be called Allah. The term has no plural or gender. This shows its uniqueness when compared with the word god which can be made plural, gods or feminine, goddess. It is interesting to notice that Allah is the personal name of God in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and a sister language of Arabic.

The One true God is a reflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with God. To a Muslim Allah is the Almighty, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, Who is similar to nothing and nothing is comparable to Him. Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) was asked by his contemporaries about Allah; the answer came directly from God Himself in the form of a short chapter of the Qur'an, which is considered the essence of the unity or the motto of monotheism. This is chapter 112 which reads:
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Say (O Muhammad) He is God the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, nor has been begotten, and equal to Him is not anyone.

Some non-Muslims allege that God in Islam is a stern and cruel God who demands to be obeyed fully. He is not loving and kind. Nothing can be further from truth than this allegation. It is enough to know that, with the exception of one, each of the 114 chapters of the Qur'an begins with the verse: "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate". In one of the sayings of prophet Muhammad (PBUH) we are told that "God is more loving and kinder than a mother to her dear child".

But God is also Just. Hence evildoers and sinners must have their share of punishment and the virtuous His bounties and favours. Actually God's attribute of Mercy has full manifestation in His attribute of Justice. People suffering throughout their life for His sake and people oppressing and exploiting other people all their life should not receive similar treatment for that will amount to negating the very belief in the accountability of man in the Hereafter and thereby negating all the incentives for a moral and virtuous life in this world. The following Quranic verses are very clear and straightforward in this respect.

Verily, for the Righteous are gardens of Delight, in the gardens of Delight, in the Presence of their Lord. Shall We then treat the people of Faith like the People of Sin? What is the matter with you? How judge you? (68:34-36).

Islam rejects characterising God in any human form or depicting Him as favouring certain individuals or nations on the basis of wealth, power or race. He created the human-beings as equals. They may distinguish themselves and get His favour through virtue and piety only.

The concept that God rested in the seventh day of creation, that God wrestled with one of His soldiers, that God is an envious plotter against mankind, or that God is incarnate in any human being are considered blasphemy from the Islamic point of view.

The unique usage of Allah as a personal name of God is a reflection of Islam's emphasis on the purity of the belief in God which is the essence of the message of all God's messengers. Because of this, Islam considers associating any deity or personality with God as a deadly sin which God will never forgive, despite the fact that He may forgive all other sins.

The Creator must be of a different nature from the things created because if he is of the same nature as they are, he will be temporal and will therefore need a maker. It follows that nothing is like Him. If the maker is not temporal, then he must be eternal. But if he is eternal, he cannot be caused, and if nothing caused him to come into existence, nothing outside him causes him to continue to exist, which means that he must be self-sufficient. And if he does not depend on anything for the continuance of his own existence, then this existence can have no end. The Creator is therefore eternal and everlasting: 'He is the first and the last'.

He is self-sufficient or self-subsistent or, to use a Qur'anic term, Al-Qayyum. The Creator does not create only in the sense of bringing things into being. He also preserves them and takes them out of existence and is the ultimate cause of whatever happens to them.

God is the Creator of everything. He is the guardian over everything. Unto Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth.

No creature is there crawling on the earth, but its provisions rests on God. He knows its lodging place and its repository.


God's Attributes
If the Creator is eternal and everlasting, then His attributes must also be eternal and everlasting. He should not lose any of His attributes nor acquire new ones. If this is so, then His attributes are absolute. Can there be more than one Creator with such absolute attributes? Can there be for example, two absolutely powerful Creators? A moment's thought shows that this is not feasible.

The Qur'an summarises this argument in the following verses:
God has not taken to Himself any son, nor is there any god with Him: For then each god would have taken off that which he created and some of them would have risen up over others. And Why, were there gods in earth and heaven other than God, they (heaven and earth) would surely go to ruin.


The Oneness of God
The Qur'an reminds us of the falsity of all alleged gods.
To the worshippers of man-made objects it asks: Do you worship what you have carved yourself or have you taken unto you others beside Him to be your protectors, even such as have no power to protect themselves?

To the worshippers of heavenly bodies it cites the story of Abraham:
When night outspread over him he saw a star and said, "This is my Lord". But when it set he said, "I love not those that set". When he saw moon rising, he said, "This is my Lord". But when it set he said: "If my Lord does not guide me I shall surely be of the people gone astray". When he saw the sun rising, he said, "This is my Lord: this is greatest But when it set he said, "O my people, surely I quit that you associate partners to Him. I have turned my face to Him who originated the heavens and the earth, a man of pure faith. I am not of the idolators". (6 : 76-79)


The Believer's Attitude
In order to be a Muslim i.e., to surrender oneself to God, it is necessary to believe in the oneness of God, in the sense of His being the only Creator, Preserver, Nourisher, etc.. But this belief - later on called Tawhid Ar-Rububiyyah is not enough. Many of the idolators knew and believed that only the Supreme God could do all this. But that was not enough to make them Muslims. To tawhid ar-rububiyyah one must add tawhid al'uluhiyyah i.e., one acknowledges the fact that it is God alone who deserves to be worshipped, and thus abstains from worshipping any other thing or being.

Having achieved this knowledge of the one true God, man should constantly have faith in Him, and should allow nothing to induce him to deny truth.

When faith enters a person's heart, it causes certain mental states which result in certain actions. Taken together these mental states and actions are the proof for true faith. The Prophet said, "Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is proved by deeds".

Foremost among those mental states is the feeling of gratitude towards God, which could be said to be the essence of ibada (Worship).

The feeling of gratitude is so important that a nonbeliever is called 'kafir', which means 'one who denies a truth' and also 'one who is ungrateful'.

A believer loves, and is grateful to God for the bounties He bestowed upon him, but being aware of the fact that his good deeds, whether mental or physical, are far from being commensurate with Divine favours, he is always anxious lest God should punish him, here or in the Hereafter. He, therefore, fears Him, surrenders himself to Him and serves Him with great humility. One cannot be in such a mental state without being almost all the time mindful of God. Remembering God is thus the life force of faith, without which it fades and withers away.

The Qur'an tries to promote this feeling of gratitude by repeating the attributes of God very frequently. We find most of these attributes mentioned together in the following verses of the Qur'an:

He is God; there is no god but He. He is the Knower of the unseen and the visible; He is the All-merciful, the All-compassionate. He is God; there is no god but He. He is the King, the All-holy, the All-peace, the Guardian of Faith, the All-preserver, the All-mighty, the All-compeller, the All-sublime. Glory be to God, above that they associate! He is God, the Creator, the Maker, the Shaper. To Him belong the Names Most Beautiful. All that is in the heavens and the earth magnifies Him; He is the All-mighty, the All-wise. (59:22-24).

There is no god but He, the Living, the Everlasting. Slumber seizes Him not, neither sleep; to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. Who is there that shall intercede with Him save by His leave? He knows what lies before them and what is after them, and they comprehend not anything of His knowledge save such as He wills. His throne comprises the heavens and earth; the preserving of them oppresses Him not; He is the All-high, the All-glorious. (2:255).

People of the Book, go not beyond the bounds in your religion, and say not as to God but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only the Messenger of God, and His Word that He committed to Mary, and a Spirit from Him. So believe in God and His Messengers, and say not, 'Three'. Refrain; better is it for you. God is only one God. Glory be to Him - that He should have a son. (4:171)

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9. CONCEPT OF WORSHIP IN ISLAM

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The concept of worship in Islam is misunderstood by many people including some Muslims. Worship is commonly taken to mean performing ritualist acts such as prayers, fasting, charity, etc. this limited understanding of worship is only one part of the meaning of worship in Islam. That is why the traditional definition of worship in Islam is a comprehensive definition that includes almost everything in any individual's activities. The definition goes something like this: "Worship is an inclusive term for all that God loves of external and internal sayings and actions of a person". In other words, worship is everything one says or does for the pleasure of Allah. This, of course, includes rituals as well as beliefs, social activities, and personal contributions to the welfare of one's fellow human-beings.

Islam looks at the individual as a whole. He is required to submit himself completely to Allah, as the Qur'an instructed the prophet Muhammad to do: "Say (O Muhammad) my prayer, my sacrifice, my life and my death belong to Allah; He has no partner and I am ordered to be among those who submit, i.e.; Muslims". The natural result of this submission is that all one's activities should conform to the instructions of the one whom the person is submitting to. Islam being a way of life, requires that its followers model their life according to its teachings in every aspect, religious or otherwise. This might sound strange to some people who think of religion as a personal relation between the individual and God, having no impact on one's activities outside rituals.

As a matter of fact Islam does not think much of mere rituals when they are performed mechanically and have no influence on one's inner life. The Qur'an addresses the believers and their neighbours from among the people of the Book who were arguing with them about the change of the direction of Qibla in the following verse:
It is not righteousness that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and gives his beloved money to the relatives and the orphans and the needy and for the ransoming of the captives and who observes prayer and pays the poor-due; and those who fulfil their promises when they have made one, and the patient in poverty and affliction and the steadfast in time of war; it is those who have proved truthful and it is those who are the God-fearing (2:177)

The deeds in the above verse are the deeds of righteousness and they are only a part of worship. The Prophet told us about faith, which is the basis of worship, is that it "is made up of sixty and some branches: the highest of which is the belief in the Oneness of Allah, i.e., there is no God but Allah and the lowest in the scale of worship is removing obstacles and dirt from people's way".

Decent work is considered in Islam a type of worship. The prophet said: "Whoever finds himself at the nightfall tired of his work, God will forgive his sins". Seeking knowledge is one of the highest types of worship. The Prophet told his companions that "seeking knowledge is a (religious) duty on every Muslim". In another saying he said: "Seeking knowledge for one hour is better than praying for seventy years". Social courtesy and co-operation are part of worship when done for the sake of Allah as the prophet told us: "Receiving your friend with a smile is a type of charity, helping a person to load his animal is a charity and putting some water in you neighbour's bucket is a charity".

It is worth noting that even performing one's duties is considered a sort of worship. The Prophet told us that whatever one spends for his family is a type of charity; he will be rewarded for it if he acquires it through legal means. Kindness to the members of one's family is an act of worship as when one puts a piece of food in his spouse's mouth as the prophet informed us. Not only this but even the acts we enjoy doing very much, when they are performed according to the instructions of the prophet, they are considered as acts of worship. The Prophet told his companions that they will be rewarded even for having sexual intercourse with their wives. The companions were astonished and asked: "How are we going to be rewarded for doing something we enjoy very much?" The Prophet asked them: "Suppose you satisfy your desires illegally, don't you think that you will be punished for that?" They replied, "yes". "So" he said. "By satisfying it legally with your wives you are rewarded for it". This means they are acts of worship.

Thus Islam does not consider sex a dirty thing that one should avoid. It is dirty and sin only when it is satisfied outside marital life.

It is clear, from the previous discussion that the concept of worship in Islam is a comprehensive concept that includes all the positive activities of the individual. This of course is an agreement with the all inclusive nature of Islam as a way of life. It regulates the human life on all levels: the individual, the social, the economic, the political and the spiritual. That is why Islam provides guidance to the smallest details of one's life on all these levels. Thus following these details is following Islamic instructions in that specific area. It is a very encouraging element when one realises that all his activities are considered by God as acts of worship. This should lead the individual to seek Allah's pleasure in his actions and always try to do them in the best possible manner whether he is watched by his superiors or he is alone. There is always the permanent supervisor, who knows everything namely, Allah.

Discussing the non-ritual worship in Islam first does not mean underevaluating the importance of the ritual ones. Actually ritual worships, if performed in true spirit, elevate man morally and spiritually and enable him to carry on his activities in all walks of life according to the Guidance of God. Among ritual worships, Salah (ritual prayer) occupies the key position for two reasons. Firstly, it is the distinctive mark of a believer. Secondly, it prevents an individual from all sorts of abominations and vices by providing him chances of direct communion with his Creator five times a day, wherein he renews his covenant with God and seeks His guidance again and again: "You alone we worship and to You alone we turn for help. Guide us to the straight path" (i:4-5). Actually Salah is the first practical manifestation of Faith and also the foremost of the basic conditions for the success of the believers:
Successful indeed are the believers who are humble in their prayers. (23:1-2)

The same fact has been emphasised by the Prophet (PBUH) in a different way. He says:
Those who offer their Salah with great care and punctuality, will find it a light, a proof of their Faith and cause of their salvation on the Day of Judgement.

After Salah, Zakah (poor-due) is an important pillar of Islam. In the Qur'an Salah and Zakah mostly have been mentioned together. Like Salah, Zakah is a manifestation of faith that affirms that God is the sole owner of everything in the universe, and what men hold is a trust in their hand over which God made them trustees to discharge it as He has laid down:
Believe in Allah and His messenger and spend of that over which He made you trustees. (57:7)

In this respect Zakah is an act of devotion which, like prayer, brings the believer nearer to his Lord.

Apart from this, Zakah is a means of redistribution of wealth in a way that reduces differences between classes and groups. It makes a fair contribution to social stability. By purging the soul of the rich from selfishness and the soul of the poor from envy and resentment against society, it stops up the channels leading to class hatred and makes it possible for the springs of brotherhood and solidarity to gush forth. Such stability is not merely based on the personal feelings of the rich: it stands on a firmly established right which, if the rich denied it, would be exacted by force, if necessary.

Siyam (fasting during the day time for the month of Ramadhan) is another pillar of Islam. The main function of fasting is to make the Muslim pure from "within" as other aspects of Shariah make him pure from "without". By such purity he responds to what is true and good and shuns what is false and evil. This is what we can perceive in the Qur'anic Verse: "O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may gain piety". (2:183) In an authentic tradition, the prophet reported Allah as saying: "He suspends eating, drinking, and gratification of his sexual passions for My sake". Thus his reward is going to be according to God's great bounty.

Fasting, then, awakens the conscience of the individual and gives it scope for exercise in a joint experience for all society at the same time, thus adding further strength to each individual. Moreover, fasting offers a compulsory rest to the overworked human machine for the duration of one full month. Similarly fasting reminds an individual of those who are deprived of life necessities throughout the year or throughout life. It makes him realise the suffering of others; the less fortunate brothers in Islam, and thus promotes in him a sense of sympathy and kindness to them.

Lastly, we come to Al-Hajj (pilgrimage to the House of God in Makka). This very important pillar of Islam, manifests a unique unity, dispelling all kinds of differences. Muslims from all corners of the world, wearing the same dress, respond to the call of Hajj in one voice and language: LABBAIK ALLA HUMMA LABBAIK (Here I am at your service O Lord!). In Hajj there is an exercise of strict self-discipline and control where not only sacred things are revered, but even the life of plants and birds is made inviolable so that everything lives in safety: "And he that venerates the sacred things of God, it shall be better for him with his Lord: (22:30), "And he that venerates the waymarks of God, it surely is from devotion of the heart". (22:32)

Pilgrimage gives an opportunity to all Muslims from all groups, classes, organisations, and governments from all over the Muslim world to meet annually in a great congress. The time and venue of this congress has been set by their one God. Invitation to attend is open to every Muslim. No one has the power to bar anyone. Every Muslim who attends is guaranteed full safety and freedom as long as he himself does not violate its safety.

Thus, worship in Islam, whether ritual or non-ritual, trains the individual in such a way that he loves his Creator most and thereby gains an unyielding will and spirit to wipe out all evil and oppression from the human society and make the word of God dominant in the world.

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10. HUMAN RIGHTS IN ISLAM

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Since God is the absolute and the sole master of men and the universe, He is the sovereign Lord, the Sustainer and Nourisher, the Merciful, Whose mercy enshrines all beings; and since He has given each man human dignity and honour, and breathed into him of His own spirit, it follows that, united in Him and through Him, and apart from their other human attributes, men are substantially the same and no tangible and actual distinction can be made among them, on account of their accidental differences such as nationality, colour or race. Every human-being is thereby related to all others and all become one community of brotherhood in their honourable and pleasant servitude to the most compassionate Lord of the Universe. In such a heavenly atmosphere the Islamic confession of the oneness of God stands dominant and central, and necessarily entails the concept of the oneness of humanity and the brotherhood of mankind.

Although an Islamic state may be set up in any part of the earth, Islam does not seek to restrict human rights or privileges to the geographical limits of its own state. Islam has laid down some universal fundamental rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances whether such a person is resident within the territory of the Islamic state or outside it, whether he is at peace with the state or at war. The Qur'an very clearly states:

O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not there be hatred of others to make you swerve to wrong and depart from Justice. Be just: that is next to Piety:” and Fear Allah. For Allah is well -aquainted with all that you do. 5:80)

Human blood is sacred in any case and cannot be spilled without justification. And if anyone violates this sanctity of human blood by killing a soul without justification, the Qur'an equates it to the killing of entire mankind:

..... Whoso slays a soul not to retaliate for a soul slain, nor for corruption done in the land, should be as if he had slain mankind altogether.

It is not permissible to oppress women, children, old people, the sick or the wounded. Women's honour and chastity are to be respected under all circumstances. The hungry person must be fed, the naked clothed and the wounded or diseased treated medically irrespective of whether they belong to the Islamic community or are from amongst its enemies.

When we speak of human rights in Islam we really mean that these rights have been granted by God; they have not been granted by any king or by any legislative assembly. The rights granted by the kings or the legislative assemblies, can also be withdrawn in the same manner in which they are conferred. The same is the case with the rights accepted and recognised by the dictators. They can confer them when they please and withdraw them when they wish; and they can openly violate them when they like. But since in Islam human rights have been conferred by God, no legislative assembly in the world or any government on earth has the right or authority to make any amendment or change in the rights conferred by God. No one has the right to abrogate them or withdraw them. Nor are they basic human rights which are conferred on paper for the sake of show and exhibition and denied in actual life when the show is over. Nor are they like philosophical concepts which have no sanctions behind them.

The charter and the proclamations and the resolutions of the United Nations cannot be compared with the rights sanctioned by God; because the former is not applicable on anybody while the latter is applicable on every believer. They are a part and parcel of the Islamic Faith. Every Muslim or administrator who claim themselves to be Muslims, will have to accept, recognise and enforce them. If they fail to enforce them, and start denying the rights that have been guaranteed by God or make amendments and changes in them, or practically violate them while paying lip service to them, the verdict of the Holy Qur'an for such government is clear and unequivocal:
Those who do not judge by what God has sent down are the disbelievers (5:44).


Human Rights in an Islamic State
1. The Security of Life and Property: In the address which the Prophet delivered on the occasion of the Farewell Hajj, he said: "Your lives and properties are forbidden to one another till you meet your Lord on the Day of Resurrection". The Prophet has also said about the dhimmis (the non-Muslim citizens of the Muslim state): "One who kills a man under covenant (i.e., Dhimmi) will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise".

2. The Protection of Honour: The Holy Qur'an lays down-
I) You who believe, do not let one (set of) people make fun of another set.
ii) Do not defame one another
iii) Do not insult by using nickname
iv) Do not backbite or speak ill of one another (49:11-12)

3. Sanctity and Security of Private Life: The Qur'an has laid down the injunction-
i) Do not spy on one another
ii) Do not enter any houses unless you are sure of their occupant's consent.

4. The Security of Personal Freedom: Islam has laid down the principle that no citizen can be imprisoned unless his guilt has been proved in an open court. To arrest a man only on the basis of suspicion and to throw him into a prison without proper court proceedings and without providing him a reasonable opportunity to produce his defence is not permissible in Islam.

5. The Right to Protest Against Tyranny: Amongst the rights that Islam has conferred on human beings is the right to protest against government's tyranny. Referring to it the Qur'an says. "God does not love evil talk in public unless it is by some one who has been injured thereby".
In Islam, as has been argued earlier, all power and authority belongs to God, and with man there is only delegated power which becomes a trust; everyone who becomes a recipient or a donee of such a power has to stand in awful reverence before his people towards whom and for whose sake he will be called upon to use these powers. This was acknowledged by Hazrat Abu Bakr who said in his very first address: "Cooperate with me when I am right but correct me when I commit error; obey me so long as I follow the commandments of Allah and His prophet; but turn away from me when I deviate".

6. Freedom of Expression: Islam gives the right of freedom of thought and expression to all citizens of the Islamic state on the condition that it should be used for the propagation of virtue and truth and not for spreading evil and wickedness. The Islamic concept of freedom of expression is much superior to the concept prevalent in the West. Under no circumstances would Islam allow evil and wickedness to be propagated. It also does not give anybody the right to use abusive or offensive language in the name of criticism. It was the practice of the Muslims to enquire from the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) whether on a certain matter a divine injunction had been revealed to him. If he said that he had received no divine injunction, the Muslims freely expressed their opinion on the matter.

7. Freedom of Association: Islam has also given people the right to freedom of association and formation of parties or organisations. This right is also subject to certain general rules.

8. Freedom of Conscience and Conviction: Islam has laid down the injunction: There should be no coercion in the matter of faith.
On the contrary totalitarian societies totally deprive the individuals of their freedom. Indeed this undue exaltation of the state authority curiously enough postulates a sort of servitude, of slavishness on the part of man. At one time slavery meant total control of man over man - now that type of slavery has been legally abolished but in its place totalitarian societies impose a similar sort of control over individuals.

9. Protection of Religious Sentiments: Along with freedom of conviction and freedom of conscience Islam has given the right to the individual that his religious sentiments will be given due respect and nothing will be said or done which may encroach upon his right.

10. Protection from Arbitrary Imprisonment: Islam also recognises the right of the individual that he will not be arrested or imprisoned for the offences of others. The Holy Qur'an has laid down this principle clearly: No bearer of burdens shall be made to bear the burden of another.

11. The Right to Basic Necessities of Life: Islam has recognised the right of the needy people that help and assistance will be provided to them: And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and the destitute.

12. Equality Before Law: Islam gives its citizens the right to absolute and complete equality in the eyes of the law.

13. Rulers Not Above the Law: A woman belonging to a high and noble family was arrested in connection with theft. The case was brought to the Prophet, and it was recommended that she might be spared the punishment of theft. The Prophet replied, "The nations that lived before you were destroyed by God because they punished the common-man for their offences and let their dignitaries go unpunished for their crimes; I swear by Him Who holds my life in His hand that even if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, had committed this crime, I would have amputated her hand".

14. The Right to Participate in the Affairs of State: And their business is (conducted) through consultation among themselves. (42:38).
The shura or the legislative assembly has no other meaning except that: The executive head of the government and the members of the assembly should be elected by free and independent choice of the people.

Lastly, it is to be made clear that Islam tries to achieve the above-mentioned human rights and many others not only by providing certain legal safeguards but mainly by inviting mankind to transcend the lower level of animal life to be able to go beyond the mere ties fostered by the kinship of blood, racial superiority, linguistic arrogance, and economic privileges. It invites mankind to move on to a plane of existence where, by reason of his inner excellence, man can realise the ideal of the Brotherhood of man.

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11. IMPORTANCE OF GOOD SOCIAL CONDUCT

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The first thing in the Guidance brought to mankind by the Holy Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W.) was the Call to Faith and Divine Unity. After it, he used to give instruction and advice concerning the moral and practical spheres of life to those who had accepted the Call.

These teachings of the Prophet (S.A.W.) can basically, be divided into two parts. The first part is related to the rights of Allah. It tells what the claim of Allah is upon the believer and what the duties of the believer are in that regard, and how this claim should be discharged and how the obligations are to be fulfilled.

The second part consists of the teachings related to the rights of men on each other, and the duty they owe to all created beings in general. How man is to fu If ii his social responsibilities and act towards all individuals or groups or any other creature with whom he may come into contact in the different walks of life.

The question of the rights of Men is more important in the sense that if we disregard them, i.e. infringe on rights of anyone or do some other injustice to him, then Allah has not kept the forgiving of it in His own hands but has declared that amends are to be made for it in this life by referring back to the person we have sinned against and to give him his due or to seek his pardon, otherwise we will have to repay him in the hereafter, which indeed, will cost us very dearly.

In a hadith, narrated by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) the Prophet (S.A.W.) says: "Whoever may have done an injustice to a brother, or defamed him or transgressed against his rights in any other way should set right the affair with him on this very day, in this very life - before the day of Judgement - when he will have no dinars and dirhams (money) to settle the claim. If he will possess a stock of good deeds, the aggrieved will be recompensed from it in relation to the injustice done to him. And in case he is empty-handed in the matter of good deeds, the sine of the aggrieved will be thrust upon him. (thus justice will be done that Day)."

In another hadith, Ayesha (R.A.) reports that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "The books of deeds (in which the sins of the people are recorded) will be of three kinds. Firstly, the one that will never be forgiven, and it is Polytheism (Shirk). Allah has declared in Holy Qur’an that, in no case shall He forgive the sin of Polytheism. Secondly, that which Allah will not pass over without doing justice. These are the mutual wrongs, injuries and violations of rights, and Allah will surely have them repaid. Thirdly, the sins which are of little weight and importance in the sight of Allah. These are the lapses that are, exclusively, between the believer and the Creator; the decision concerning them is wholly in His hands and He will punish or forgive the sinners as He likes."

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12. CHILDRENS RIGHTS ON PARENTS

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Social commandments begin with the birth of a child, hence we begin with the Prophet's (S.A.W.) sayings regarding birth and the duties of parents to the new-born child.


Saying of Adhaan (in the ears of a new-born child).

Abu Rafey (R.A.) relates that "I saw the Prophet (S.A.W.) saying the adhaan of salaah in the ear of his grandson, Hasan, when the child was born to his daughter
Fatima.

Commentary: In this hadith only the saying of adhaan has been mentioned, but in another hadith reported by Husain (R.A.) the Prophet (S.A.W.) prescribed the saying of adhaan in the right ear and iqaamah in the left ear (of the new-born child, and also mentioned its suspiciousness. He said, that on account of it, the child remained safe from infantile epilepsy.

As these Ahadith show, the primary claim of a child on his parents is that his ears, and through his ears, his head and heart are made aquainted with the name of the Almighty and His Oneness and with the Call of Faith and salaah. The best way to it, evidently, is that adhaan and iqaamah are said in his ears, as these impart the knowledge of spirit and the fundamental practices of Islam in a most effect manner.


Tahneeq

When a child was born in the family of the Sahaaba(R.A.), they would take it to the Prophet (S.A.W.) so that he would bless it, and apply the pulp of a date, chewed by him, to its palate, which the Sahaaba believed would help to keep the child safe from evils and bring it good fortune. This is called ‘Tahneeq' in Islamic terms Ayesha (R.A.) narrates that "The people used to bring their new-born children to the Prophet (S.A.W.) and he would bless them and perform the Tahneeq."

This shows that when a child is born in a Muslim home, it should be taken to a virtuous, pious person to receive his blessing and have the Tahneeq done. It is one of the sunnah practices that have now sadly become extinct.


Aqeeqah

In almost all the communities of the world, the birth of a child is considered a blessing and some ceremony is held to celebrate the event. Besides being natural, it also serves a special purpose, and makes it known, in a suitable and dignified manner, that the father has accepted the child as his own and there is no doubt or suspicion in his mind concerning it. It shuts the door to many mischiefs that can arise in the future. The practice of aqeeqah was observed among the Arabs, even during the Age of Ignorance, for this very reason. The hair on the child's head was shaved off and its weight equivalent was sacrificed as a mark of rejoicing - which was a characteristic feature of Millat-u Ibrahim (the religion of Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.)) While preserving the practice in principle, the Prophet (S.A.W.) gave appropriate instructions, and he set an example of how it was to be done.

It is reported by Buraidah (R.A.) that "During the Age of Ignorance", when a child was born to anyone of us, we used to slaughter a goat and smear the head of the child with its blood. Later, after the dawn of Islam, our practice became, (on the advice of the Prophet (S.A.W.)) that we sacrifice a goat of aqeeqah on the seventh day after the birth of a child, and shave the head of the infant, and apply saffron on it."

Since, as we have seen, the aqeeqah served as a useful purpose in many ways, and was also in keeping with the spirit of Islam and, perhaps, like the rituals of Hajj, it was among the remaining practices of Millat-u-lbrahim, the Prophet (S.A.W.) preserved the reality of aqeeqah, but corrected the backward practices that had become associated with it.

The aqeeqah ceremony was also observed by the Jews, but they sacrificed an animal only in the case of a male child - which was indicative of the lesser value placed on girls in the pre-Islamic times. The Prophet (S.A.W.) corrected this too, and enjoined that the aqeeqah of girls should also be performed, like that of the boys. However, keeping in mind the natural difference between the two sexes, the Prophet (S.A.W.) laid down that while one goat was to be sacrificed in the aqeeqah of a female child, two should be sacrificed in the aqeeqah of a male child - provided that one's financial position permitted it.

It is reported by Abdullah ibn Amr ibn-ul-Aa's (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "To whomsoever a child is born, and he wants to perform a sacrifice of aqeeqah on behalf of it, he should sacrifice two goats for a boy and one for a girl."

Commentary: As is evident in this hadith, aqeeqah is not obligatory, but it is among the Mustahab acts, i.e. those acts which are recommended and rewardable but are not binding or compulsory. In the same way it is not necessary to sacrifice two goats for a male child. It is better to sacrifice two, if one can afford it, otherwise, one is enough. In some Ahadith, the giving away in charity of silver equal in weight to the child’s shaved hair, or its price in cash, is also mentioned, in addition to the sacrifice of the animal. This too is Mustahab and not compulsory.

The command to perform the aqeeqah on the day of the birth has not been given, perhaps for the reason that, at the time the family is occupied with the needs and comforts of the mother and the shaving of the hair(head) can also be harmful to the child. Generally, after a week the mother gets well and does not need special attention and the baby, too, becomes strong enough to go through the shaving of the hair.

In some other Ahadith, it is said that the child should also be named on the seventh day, together with aqeeqah, but from a few other Ahadith it appears that the Prophet (S.A.W.) had named children even on the day of their birth. There is, as such, no harm in naming the child before the seventh day, but if it has not been done, the child should be named on the seventh day, together with the aqeeqah.

The aqeeqah ceremony, as we've seen consists of two acts: the shaving of the hair (head) and the sacrifice of the animal. There is a peculiar link between the two acts and these acts are among the religious practices of Millat-u-lbrahim. In Hajj, too, they go together - where the pilgrims have their hair (head) shaved after the Adhiyah. Thus, aqeeqah also, is a practical demonstration of our association with Nabee Ibrahim (A.S.) and of the fact that the child, too, is a member of the same community.


Tasmiya

That the child be given a good name is also an obligation of the parents.

Abdullah ibn Abbas (R.A.) relates that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "it is also a claim of the child on his father that he gives him a good name and teaches him good manners."

In another hadith, the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "on the Day of Resurrection, you will be called out by your name and the name of your father. -The call will be:- so and-so, son of so-and-so, therefore, give good names."

From these sayings and the practices of the Prophet (S.A.W.), we get the guidance that it is the responsibility of the parents to give names to their children or have them named by a pious person.


Religious upbringing

All the prophets, and, lastly the Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W.) have stressed that the brief earthly stay of a human being is an introduction to the everlasting life of Eternity. It, therefore, follows that a greater attention is paid to the betterment of prospects in the life to come and attainment of happiness in the Hereafter than to the affairs and interests of this life. Thus, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has enjoined upon the parents to take care of the religious instruction of their children from the very beginning, otherwise they will be called to account for negligence on the Day of Judgement.

It is related by Ibn Abbas (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Have your children utter, first of all, the Kalima of Laa-ilaha-illallah, (i.e. let these be the first words that they speak), and emphasise upon them to utter the same Kalima at the time of their death.

Commentary: The child begins to receive the impression of what it sees or hears from the time of its birth. The saying of adhaan and iqaamah in the ears of a newly-born infant, also, gives a clear indication of it. This hadith shows that when a child begins to speak, it should be taught to utter the Kalima, as a first step towards its education. It further tells that when the dying moment is near, a person should, again be urged to pronounce the same Kalima. Blessed indeed is the man who when he utters the first words, on coming into this world, it is the Kalima, and the same Kalima is on his lips when he departs.

The Prophet (S.A.W.) has said "No father gives a better gift to his children than good manners and good character.

It is related by Anas (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Show respect to your children and adorn them with good manners." Showing of respect to one's children denotes that they should be treated not as a burden, but a blessing and trust of Allah, and brought up with care and affection.

In another hadith, the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "When your children attain the age of seven, insist upon them to offer Salaah (regularly), and when they are ten years old, punish them if they do not, and have separate beds for them (to sleep on).

Commentary: Children generally, develop the faculty of understanding at the age of seven, and it is time that their feet were set on the path of the worship of Allah. They should, therefore, be told to offer Salaah regularly when they attain that age. At ten, their powers of discretion and intelligence are fairly advanced and they begin to approach maturity. At that time, the observance of Salaah ought to be enjoined strictly upon them, and they should be taken to task, in an appropriate manner, if they fail to do so. They should further be required to sleep on separate beds and not together (which is permitted up to the age of ten). All these, in brief, are the rights of children, both boys and girls, on their parents, and the parents will have to render a full account in respect of them on the Day of Reckoning.


Showing kindness to daughters

Even now daughters are considered an unwanted burden in some societies and instead of rejoicing, an atmosphere of grief and disappointment is produced in the family at their birth. This is the position, today, but in the pre-Islamic times the daughters were positively considered a shame and disgrace among the Arabs, so much so that even the right to live was denied to them. Many a hard-hearted parent used to strangle his daughter to death, with his own hands, when she was born, or bury her alive. The Qur’an says:

'When news is brought to one of them, of the birth of a female, his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief.
He hides himself with shame, from the people, because of the bad news he has had. (Asking himself): shall he keep it in contempt or bury in the dust. Ah: What an evil choice they decide.”

Abdullah ibn Abbas (R.A.) reports that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Whoever becomes the father of a girl, he should neither hurt her nor treat her with contempt nor show preference over her to his sons in kindness and affection. (Both boys and girls should be treated alike.) Allah will grant him Paradise in return for kind treatment towards the daughter.

It is narrated that a very poor woman, with two daughters, came to Ayesha's (R.A.) place to beg. By chance, Ayesha (R.A.) had only one date with her, at that time, which she gave to the woman. The woman broke the date into two parts and gave one part each to the girls. She did not eat anything of it herself. When after some time, the Prophet (S.A.W.) came, Ayesha (R.A.) related the incident to him, upon which he remarked:

"The believing man or woman upon whom there is the responsibility of daughters and he or she discharges it well and treats them with affection, the daughters will become a means of freedom, for him or her, in the hereafter.

It is related by Anas (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "The believer who bears the responsibility of two daughters and supports them till they attain puberty, he and I will be close to one another like this on the Day of Judgement." Anas (R.A.), adds that the Prophet (S.A.W.) showed, by joining the fingers of his hand, that as the fingers were close to one another, in the same way will the believer be close to him on the Day of Judgement.

Abu Saeed Khudri (R.A.) relates that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Whoever bears the responsibility of three daughters or sisters or even of two daughters or sisters, and bears it well, and looks after their training and welfare properly, and then, gets them married, Allah will reward him with Paradise."

In these Ahadith, the Prophet (S.A.W.) has not only stated that kind treatment was the natural right or claim of the daughters, but, also that the believers who fulfilled the obligation towards them in a good and proper manner would be rewarded with Paradise in the hereafter. He, further, gives the joyful tidings that such a man will be close to him, on the Day of Judgement, as the fingers of a hand are, when joined together.


Treating all the children equally

The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has emphasised that parents should be just and fair to all the children, particularly in matters of gifts and kindness, and it must not be that while one gets more the other gets less or nothing. Besides being desirable in itself, equality to all the children also meets the demands of justice and equity which is pleasing to the Almighty. Besides, if discrimination is made among the children and one is favoured more than the other, it will lead to ill-will and jealousy, and nothing but evil can arise from this. The child who is discriminated against will bear a grudge against the father, - the painful consequences of which, are easy to imagine.

Narrates No'man ibn Bashir(R.A.), "My father took me to the Prophet (S.A.W.) and said (to him), "I have given a slave to this son of mine." The Prophet enquired, "Have you given the same to all of your sons?" "No," my father replied. The Prophet, thereupon, said, "it is not correct. Take it back.""

In another version, of the same hadith, The Prophet asked, "Do you want all your children to be equally devoted to you?" "Yes, of course," he replied. The Prophet said "Then do not act like that (let it not be that you give some property to one child and exclude the others.)"

In yet another version it is added that the Prophet remarked, "I cannot be a witness to an act of injustice."

In this hadith, it is enjoined upon parents not to discriminate among their children when it domes to giving them something as a gift etc. This has been condemned by the Prophet (S.A.W.) as unjust and unfair. Some of the learned people have gone to the extent of calling it Haraam, but the majority of them hold the view that though it is not Haraam, it is Makrooh, and highly undesirable.

It must, however, be emphasised that the command applies only to a situation where the preferential treatment is based on a consideration that is not lawful or justifiable in the eye of the Shariah, otherwise no blame will be attached to it. For example, if a child is physically handicapped and cannot earn his livelihood like his brothers, a special favour to him will not be incorrect, but to an extent it will be essential and worthy of Divine reward. Similarly, should any child dedicate himself to the cause of Iman or public welfare and have no time to look after his economic needs, it would also be correct and deserving of reward, to make a reasonable allowance for him over the other children.

There is no harm if preference is shown to one of the children with the consent of the others tie the brothers & sisters).

In a hadith, the Prophet (S.A.W.) says, "Treat all your children equally in regard to free gifts. If I were to show preference in this matter, I would show it to daughters. (If equality was not necessary and binding, I would have declared that more be given to daughters than to sons.)"

It can be concluded from this hadith that though, after the death of the parents, the shares of daughters in ancestral property is half of the sons, in their life-time, the share of both the sons and the daughters is equal. Therefore whatever the parents give to the sons, in their life-time, should also be given to the daughters.


Responsibility of marriage

It is the duty of parents to arrange the marriage of their children when they come of age. The Prophet (S.A.W.) has stressed that it should be taken seriously and with a full sense of responsibility. Abu Saeed Khudri and Abdullah ibn Abbas (R.A.) narrated that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Whoever is blessed by the Creator with children should give them good names, a good training, teach them good manners, and arrange for their marriage when they attain the age of puberty, if he does not pay due heed to it and fails to get them married, on reaching marriageable age (due to negligence) and they take to ways that are forbidden, the father will be held responsible for it."

Commentary:- In this hadith the marriage of the children, too, on their attaining the marriageable age, has been made a responsibility of the father. But alas we are growing increasingly indifferent to it mainly because we have made marriage a most tiresome and expensive affair by following and adopting the customs of others.

If we follow the good example of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and begin to perform marriages as he had performed his own marriage or the marriages of his daughters, the whole ceremony will be as easy and simple, as it is for a Muslim to observe and fulfil the Friday prayers. Blessings will then flow from it - of which we have deprived ourselves, through thoughtless imitations of un-lslamic societies

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13. PARENTS RIGHTS OVER CHILDREN

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The Prophet (S.A.W.) has laid stress on the rights of parents and duties of children, in the same way as he has stressed the rights of children and the duties of parents.

To be obedient to parents and to show kindness to them has been enjoined along with the Oneness and Worship of Allah, in the Holy Qur’an, in such a manner that it appears that among human deeds, to obey parents and treat them with respect and kindness is next only to Divine Worship.

The Qur’an says, in Sura Bani Isra’il:

"Your Lord (The Creator) has ordained that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to the parents.


Parents are the Heaven and Hell of the Children

In a hadith the Prophet (S.A.W.) has said that the parents of a person are his Heaven or Hell.

This shows that if a person obeys his parents and attends to their needs and comforts and keeps them happy, he will attain Paradise. On the other hand, if he is rude and disobedient to them and offends them by ignoring their feelings or by causing them grief in any other way, his place shall be in Hell.


Pleasing the parents causes Allah's pleasure

Anyone who seeks to please Allah should earn the good pleasure of his parents. To keep the parents well pleased is essential since their anger and displeasure will lead to Allah's anger and displeasure. The Prophet (S.A.W.) has said "in the good pleasure of the father lies the good pleasure of the Creator and in his displeasure, lies the displeasure of the Creator."

Here the mother has not been mentioned, but, according to many other Ahadith, the right of the mother with regard to service and kind treatment is even higher than that of the father. Therefore, her pleasure or displeasure will carry an equal significance.


Curse for not looking after aged parents.

The time that the parents need to be looked after most carefully is in their old age, and to serve them devotedly in that state is most pleasing to Allah and it is an easy way to attain Paradise.

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) relates that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "May he be disgraced, may he be disgraced, may he be disgraced." "Who?" The Sahaaba enquired. "The person whose parents, or any one of them, attain old-ape during his life-time and he does not earn Paradise (by being kind-hearted and dutiful to them)!"

Therefore, anyone who gets an opportunity to serve his parents in their old-age and does not avail himself to it (to attain Paradise), undoubtedly, he is a most wretched person.


Serving the parents is preferable to Jihad

When the parents of a person are in need of his help and attention, then it is preferable for him to serve them than to go to Jihad.

A person once came to the Prophet (S.A.W.) and said that he wanted to participate in the Jihad. The Prophet asked him "Are your parents alive?" "Yes, they are alive" he replied. The Prophet said. "Then strive in their service and assist them at the time of their need. (This is your Jihad.)"

Commentary: Perhaps, there was reason for the Prophet (S.A.W.) to believe that the parents of the person concerned were in need for help and attention, that is why he told him to go and take care of them, because in these circumstances service to the parents was more important.

However, it must not be misunderstood that anyone whose parents are alive should not take part in Jihad, and that only those whose parents have died. should do so. In fact, the parents of many of the Sahaaba who took part in Jihad, were living.


The mother's claim is greater

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) narrates that a person asked the Prophet (S.A.W.) "Who has the greatest claim on me with regard to service and kind treatment?" The Prophet replied, "Your mother, and again your mother, and once again your mother. After her, is the claim of your father, then that of your near relations and then of the relations next to them.

This, obviously, shows that where care and kind treatment are concerned, the claim of the mother is greater than that of the father.

It appears to be the same in the Qur’an too. In many instances, the pain and the suffering which the mother has to bear during pregnancy, at childbirth, and in the bringing-up of the children, has been mentioned along with the emphasis of expressing kindness to parents.


Paradise lies at the mother's feet

In one hadith the Prophet (S.A.W.) has clearly stated that a person's Paradise lies at his mother's feet. By serving her well and being obedient to her, one can attain Paradise.

In some other Ahadith the Prophet (S.A.W.) has explained that serving the mother, the maternal aunt and maternal grandmother, are among the acts by whose piousness, even the repentance of a great sinner and evil-doer is accepted and he is forgiven.


Treatment towards polytheist parents

If anyone's parents are polytheists, and they want him to follow their faith, he should refuse, but he should continue to be kind and respectful to them.

Asma bint Abu Bakr (R.A.) relates that her mother had come to Madinah, from Makkah, to meet her. Her mother followed the Pagan customs and beliefs? so Asma (R.A.) enquired from the Prophet (S.A.W.) as how she was to treat her whether she should have nothing to do with her, as she was a Pagan, or treat her like a daughter should, and show kindness to her. The Prophet told her to be kind and considerate and to behave towards her as was a mother's due, from a daughter.


Parents' rights after their death

The rights of parents do not come to an end with their death. In fact, some of their rights take effect after their death, and it is a religious obligation for the children to fulfil them.

As explained before, obeying one's parents and treating them with respect and affection is great virtue - and atones for one's sins. Similarly, to ask Allah to have mercy on them after their death, is an act which brings comfort to them in their graves and serves to atone for one's sins.

After the death of one's parents among other duties, should be to pray for their forgiveness and treat their relatives and friends with due respect.

Abu Usaid Sa'idi (R.A.) relates that a person came to the Prophet (S.A.W.) and asked him "0 Prophet of Allah, are there some rights of my parents, on me, which I have to fulfil even after they have died?" "Yes" the Prophet replied, "These are to pray for mercy and forgiveness on their behalf, to fulfil the promises they have made to anyone, to pay due regard to the bonds of relationship from their side and to be respectful to their friends.

In the Qur’an, Muslims have been urged to pray for the salvation of their parents as shown in the verse.

And say, "My Lord. Have mercy on both of them, as they cared for me when I was little."


Advantages of obedience to parents

The real reward for serving the parents, with great attention, is Paradise and the pleasure of Allah. But the Almighty bestows a special favour, in this world too, on the believer who fulfils the parents' rights devotedly.
Jabir (R.A.) reports that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Allah prolongs the life of a person who obeys his parents and serves them devotedly."

In another hadith, the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said, "Obey your parents and treat them with kindness, your children will be kind and obedient to you.


Great sin for disobeying the parents

Just as the Prophet (S.A.W.) declared, that serving ones parents well is an act of great virtue, he condemned the showing of disobedience to them, or harming them, as a most serious and detestable sin.

When asked about the major sins, the Prophet (S.A.W.) replied." To associate anyone with Allah, to disobey the parents, to kill unlawfully and to give false evidence."

The above-mentioned acts have been condemned as 'Akbarul-Kabaair' i.e. the most serious of the major sins. The order in which the Prophet said them, shows that the disregard of parents rights is next, only, to Polytheism (Shirk) and it is even more serious than murder.

The Prophet (S.A.W.) has said "To abuse one's parents is also a major sin." He was asked "Can anyone abuse his parents?" "Yes," the Prophet replied, "if a person abused someone else's parents and that person, in retaliation, abused his parents, - then it is as though he himself had abused his parents."
We can imagine, from this, what an important place respect for parents occupies in the moral and social teachings of Islam, and how careful one should be about it.

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14. RIGHTS OF OTHER RELATIVES

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Besides parents' rights, a great emphasis is also laid on the rights of other relatives. In Islamic terms, 'Silah-Rahimi' is used to denote good treatment towards the relatives'.

In the Qur’an, where the Muslims are enjoined to show kindness to parents, they are also required to treat the other relatives with love and sympathy and to pay due regard to their rights as well.

As we have seen in a previous hadith, the foremost claim on a person is that of his mother, then of his father, and then grade by grade, of the other relatives. Therefore through relationship, the relatives' rights come after that of the parents.

Allah has declared, "I am Allah, I am Ar-Rahman (The Merciful), I have created the bond of kinship and named it Rahim,-which I have derived from the root of my name of Rahman. Thus, whoever, shall join it tie. Rahim), I shall join him, and whoever will break it, I shall break him."

The Almighty has designed the system of birth in such a way, that whoever is born, is tied to the bonds of kinship-and these bonds carry certain claims and rights. Thus, whoever fulfils these claims, by being kind to his relatives and treating them well, Allah will "join him" i.e. He will make him His own and bestow His favour and mercy on him. And whosoever will violate these claims, Allah will "break him" i.e. He will have nothing to do with him.


Fulfilling the rights of relatives

It is related by Anas (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Whoever wants an increase in his sustenance and that the marks of his feet remain for a long time in the world (i.e. to live long) - he should be kind and helpful to his relatives."

Basically, there are two ways of being kind and considerate to relatives. One is by giving them monetary assistance, when needed, and the other is by devoting a part of one's time and energy at their service.

Family quarrels, which generally arise from the disregard of the relatives' rights, affect a man's health and make it difficult for him to concentrate in his work. Those who treat their relatives well and are helpful to them, are free from tensions of this kind and they are happier and more peaceful.


Violation of relatives' rights

The Prophet (S.A.W.) has said "Whoever violates the rights of relatives, shall not go to Paradise.

Commentary:- This hadith, alone, should be enough to make us realise the importance of Silah-Rahimi'. It shows that the violation of the relatives' rights is so detested by Allah, that with its filthiness, no one can enter Paradise. It is only when a person (believer) has received his punishment or has been forgiven, that the gates of Paradise will be opened for him.


Showing kindness to those who sever relations.

Often, there are people who care little for the bonds of relationship and are ruin) and unjust in this respect. Prophet (S.A.W.) has enjoined to continue to treat them well and fulfil the obligations, irrespective of what they do and how they behave.

Abdullah ibn Umar(R.A.) relates from the Prophet (S.A.W.), "He does not fulfil the claim of Silah-Rahimi who shows no kindness in return for the kindness shown to him.. The person who really fulfils the claim is he who treats his relatives well even when they are mean and unjust to him.

When the violation of the rights of relatives is returned in a similar manner, the evil will spread in the society -- while if it is returned with kindness, it may lead to their correction and it will assist in the promotion of Silah-Rahimi, in the life of the community.

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15. MUTUAL RIGHTS OF HUSBAND AND WIFE

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The significance of marriage and the aims and advantages that are associated with it are self-evident. Peace of mind and a happy life are greatly dependent on the mutual relationship that develops between husband and wife.

The main objects of marriage are that both parties enjoy the pleasures of life with purity, (which can only be possible through wedlock) and that the continuity of the human race be, and is, maintained with dignity. These objects can be realised best when the relations between husband and wife are good and there is love, sympathy and good understanding between them.

The main purpose of the Prophet's teachings, regarding the rights and duties of marriage, is that the marriage proves to be a source of joy and satisfaction to both husband and wife, that their hearts remain united and that the aims of the marriage be attained in the best possible manner. According to the Prophet's teachings, the wife should regard her husband over and above everyone else and she should remain faithful to him. She should leave nothing to be desired with regards to devotion and earnestness and should believe that, for her. the happiness of both worlds lies in his good pleasure. The husband, on his part, ought to consider his wife as a blessing of Allah and he should give her. ungrudgingly, his love, hold her in high esteem and look after her needs and comforts to the best of his ability. It she makes a mistake, he should over look it and try to correct her with tact and patience.


Obedience and loyalty to the husband

Ayesha (R.A.) says that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "The greatest claim on a woman is that of her husband and the greatest claim on a man is that of his mother".

In the marriage agreement it is necessary that the husband has the position of leadership. Man has been declared the head of the family in the Islamic Shari'ah and great responsibilities have been assigned to him. The Qur’an says ‘Men are the protectors and maintainers of women".

As for the women, the commandment is that they obey the husband as the head of the household and fulfil the domestic duties. Regarding them, the Qur’an says "The righteous women are obedient and protect (the husband's interest) in his absence, as Allah has protected them."

If the wife fails to submit to her husband, and instead of serving him devotedly, she adopts an attitude of defiance and stubbornness, then it will be disastrous for both and they will be losers in this world and the hereafter.

The Prophet (S.A.W.), therefore, stressed upon the wives to be loyal and faithful to their husbands and to seek their pleasure, -(A great reward has been promised for this, in the hereafter.)

It is related by Anas (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "if a woman offers five times daily prayer, keeps the fasts of Ramadhan, guards her honour and obeys her husband, then she will enter Paradise by whichever gate she pleases."

Commentary:- Here, loyalty and obedience to the husband has been mentioned along with the Swalaah and Fast. It denotes that, in the Shariah, submission to the husband is as important as the principal duties of Islam.

The Prophet (S.A.W.) has said "A woman who dies in the state that her husband is pleased with her, shall go to Paradise.

It should be noted here, that, if a man is displeased with his wife, without any fault of hers, she will be innocent in the sight of Allah and the responsibility for annoyance shall rest with the husband.


Advice on kind treatment to the wife.

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) relates that the Prophet (S.A.W.) advised, "0 people. Follow my advice concerning the kind treatment of wives. (I order you to treat your wives with kindness and love). The woman has been created from the rib, and the rib is curved, by nature, and the greatest curve is in its upper part. If you try to straighten the curved rib by force, it will break, and if you leave it alone, it will remain curved forever. So follow my advice and treat your wives kindly and well.

If a man dislikes his wife for some reason, he should not adopt an attitude of hatred towards her, and start thinking in terms of divorce, but he should look for the good qualities in her, and learn to admire her because of them.

The Prophet (S.A.W.) has said, "No believing man hates his believing wife. I! there is a bad quality in her, there will also be a good quality."
This is the claim of Faith on a believing husband and the privilege of a believing wife.

Addressing the Muslims, the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "The best of you are those who are best to their wives."

It is related by Ayesha (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "Good among you are those who are good to their wives; and I, on my part, am very good to my wives."

This shows that there is a special goodness in treating one's wife well. To make the advice more effective, the Prophet added that he himself was good and considerate to his wives.

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16. RIGHTS OF NEIGHBOURS

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Apart from a man's parents, children and near relatives, there also exists a permanent association and contact between him and his neighbours. The state of his association - be it good or otherwise has a great influence on his life and morals. The Prophet (S.A.W.) had attached great importance to this and has constantly urged the Ummah to pay due regard to the rights of neighbours to the extent that he had declared good neighbourliness to be part of Iman (Faith) and an essential requisite for salvation.


Three Categories of Neighbours

In a hadith, related by Jabir(R.A.), the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said " Neighbours are of three kinds. Firstly, the neighbour who enjoys only one right (and as far as rights are concerned) he is of the lowest grade. Secondly, the one who enjoys two rights and thirdly the neighbour who enjoys three rights. The neighbour with only one right is the Polytheist (i.e. a non-Muslim neighbour with whom there are no family ties). The neighbour with two rights is the neighbour who is also a Muslim (as such he has a claim as a neighbour as well as a fellow Muslim) and the one with three rights is the neighbour who is a Muslim and a relative - he has a claim as a neighbour, as a fellow Muslim and as a relative".

This hadith clearly explains that the obligation to live in peace and harmony with neighbours, as demanded in the Holy Qur’an and the Traditions, also includes the non-Muslim neighbours. They too have a claim to our kindness and sympathy. We treat the animals with kindness and we have been warned against ill treating them, then what of our fellow humans - more so our neighbours. It will be significant to note that in all Ahadith Traditions) mentioned, with regards to the basic rights of neighbours, no distinction had been made between Muslims and non-Muslims.


Emphasis on the Rights of Neighbours

It is reported, on the authority of Ayesha (R.A.) and Ibn Umar (R.A.) that the messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said "The Angel Jibra'il (A.S.) counselled me so frequently regarding the rights of the neighbour that I feared, he too would be declared an heir.

This hadith shows that Angel Jibra'il (A.S.) brought commandments from Allah, concerning the rights of the neighbour so frequently and stressed the need to be kind and courteous to him with such force and regularity that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) thought that the neighbour also will be made an heir i.e. just as parents, children and near relatives inherit the property left by the deceased, he thought that the neighbour, too, will be given a share in it.

Note:- The purpose of this hadith is not merely to state a fact, but rather it is most effective way of highlighting the importance of the neighbour to the Muslims.


Importance of good treatment to neighbours (It is an essential condition of Iman-faith)

It is narrated by Abu Shurayh (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Whoever believes in Allah and the final day (Day of Judgement) it is essential that he does not harm his neighbours and whoever believes in Allah and the final Day it is essential for him to entertain his guest with kindness and generosity and whoever believes in Allah and the Final Day it is essential that he speak what is good or otherwise remain silent."

Amongst other points this hadith explains that it is essential for the true believer to be mindful of his neighbours at all times so that he does not harm him in any way. It also gives us an idea of the value placed on the rights of neighbours by the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.).

In another hadith related by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) the Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "By Allah, he is not a true believer, By Allah, he is not a true believer, By Allah, he is not a true believer (three times). He was asked 'Who?" Upon which he replied, "The one whose neighbours do not feel secure from his mischief and evil.

The construction and manner of the hadith shows how agitated the Prophet (S.A.W.) must have been when he said this. The essence contained in this hadith is that the Muslim whose character is such that his neigbhours expect nothing but evil from him and they live in fear of being hurt or harmed by him, cannot be regarded as a true and faithful believer- he doesn't deserve the title of Muslim or Mu'min. On another occasion the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said that such a person (whose neighbours do not feel safe on his account) shall not go to Heaven.

Note:- In the language of Prophethood, when special emphasis is laid on a deed, the customary way of putting it is to say that whoever neglects it etc. is not a true believer, and he shall not go to Heaven. It should be understood that this does not imply that he has actually been thrown out of the fold of Islam and now the laws of Infidelity(Kufr) will apply to him, and that in the hereafter he will be treated as an infidel, but rather this is an emphatic way of explaining that such a person does not possess the true spirit of Iman which is the glory of a Muslim and is pleasing to Allah. The particular phrasing is used to lend greater force to the matter.

In yet another hadith, related by Anas (R.A.), the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "He has not affirmed faith in me (i.e. he is not a true follower) who eats to his satisfaction and sleeps comfortably at night white his neighbour goes hungry - and he is aware of it."

How astonishing that such a wide gap has occurred between these teachings and traditions and the actual conduct of the Muslims as a whole! It is extremely difficult for an unknowing person to believe that such, really, were the teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.).

Nevertheless, these traditions and teachings explain clearly the importance of good and kind treatment to neighbours and they are a clear admonition to those who remain indifferent to the needs and difficulties of their neighbours and care nothing for them.


Certain specific rights of the neighbours

Mu'awiya Ibn Haidah relates that the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) said "The rights of the neighbour upon you are that; If he falls ill you visit (and take care of) him; if he dies you attend his funeral (and take part in the burial arrangements); if he commits an evil deed, you prevent it from being known (i.e. do not give publicity to it); if he is favoured by good-fortune, you congratulate him; if a calamity befalls him, you grieve in sympathy with him; and that you restrain from erecting your building higher than his in such a way that the passage of fresh air is blocked from his house (unless you obtained his consent) and further, (you take care that) the aroma of your cooking pot does not cause sorrow to him (and his children) except that you send some of it (the food) to him."

The specific rights mentioned above are easily understood but the last two require special attention:- One should be careful, while building a house (or any building) that the walls are not so high as to cause discomfort to the neighbours by obstructing the free flow of air into their place (or in any other way) unless of course one has obtained prior consent of the neighbours.

Let us note that this was the teaching of The Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) more than fourteen hundred years ago, but we as Muslims tend to forget or rather ignore this, and we readily accept government, municipal or council laws on the same issue -(that the consent of neighbours should be obtained prior to any construction)! How unmindful and indifferent we seem to be!

The other point is that one' should try his level best not to let the aroma of one's cooking pot reach the neighbours' household - lest they are aroused by the delicious smells and desire to eat the same while they can not afford it - this will cause grief to them. To restrain the aroma from travelling is obviously not easy, hence one should make it a point of sending some of the food (when a delicious meal is cooked) to the neighbours. It is reported on the authority of Jabir (R.A.) that Rasulullah (S.A.W.) said "Whenever gravy is cooked in anyone's house, he should increase the broth (by adding water) and then send some to his neighbours."


Caring for the moral and religious status of neighbours

The foregoing sections dealt with the material welfare of neighbours - paying regard to their needs and feelings etc., hereunder is an explanation of the caring for their moral and religious welfare, which is also a right of the neighbour.

On one occasion the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said "What has happened to those, whom Allah has favoured with the understanding of faith and religious knowledge, and they do nothing by way of teaching it to, their neighbours (who are in need of it) or creating an awareness in them? They neither give good counsel, nor discharge the duty of enjoining what is good and lawful, and forbidding what is bad and prohibiting. And what has happened to the uninformed ones that they make no effort to learn from their neighbours?

By Allah it is the duty of those who possess the knowledge to impart it to their neighbours (who are wanting in it)- through good counsel and by enjoining what is lawful and forbidding what is prohibited. In the same manner it is the duty of t he ignorant and uninformed to acquire the knowledge from their neighbours (who are learned) and to take advice from them - otherwise, (if neither party does its duty) a severe punishment will befall them in their very existence."

The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has thus enjoined upon the people of all localities and regions, who possess the understanding of faith and religious knowledge, to impart it to those living in the neighbourhood and to work for their moral and spiritual instruction and improvement. On the other hand he has charged those who are lacking in this field to maintain a regular contact with men of faith and knowledge so as to benefit from their company.

Unfortunately, due to the neglect of this hadith and its likes, a vast majority of Muslims lack (are wanting in) religious knowledge and attachment to Allah and His Messenger (S.A.W.).

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17. RIGHTS OF THE WEAK AND POOR

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In the teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) the importance of respect for the rights of the weaker and poorer sections of society, - the needy, the orphans, the widows, the destitute and downtrodden etc. - has also been stressed. To care for their needs and look after their well being has been described as a virtue of the highest order and the Prophet (S.A.W.) has given the tidings of a vast reward in this regard.


Caring for the Orphan

According to the Holy Traditions the best Muslim's home is the one wherein an orphan is supported and is treated in a loving and affectionate manner, and the worst is that home wherein an orphan lives and is treated badly or cruelly.

It is related by Sahl ibn Saad (R.A.) that Rasulullah (S.A.W.) said "Whoever supports an orphan from among his own or any other family, he will be as close to me in Heaven as these fingers are close to each other" Sahl (R.A.) says that Rasulullah (S.A.W.) made a motion of his index and middle fingers (while he said this) and there was only a little space between the two.

In another hadith the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) made a provision:- "provided he is not guilty of an unpardonable sin. This hadith explains the status, in the hereafter, of that bondsman who accepts the responsibility of supporting an orphan belonging either to his own family or any other family with whom he has no particular blood tie. Which makes the fact clear that the promise of salvation and entry into paradise is subject to the condition of not committing a misdeed, such as polytheism, murder etc. which is not pardonable.

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) reports that the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) stated "Whoever caresses the head of an orphan (in affection), solely for the sake of Allah, a good deed will be written to his account for every hair over which he passed his hand, and whoever treated an orphan (boy or girl) with goodness and kindness, he and I will be close to each-other in Heaven as these two fingers" The Prophet (S.A.W.) made a gesture with his fingers as explained above.

It is therefore clear that the glad tidings on showing kindness to orphans are dependent upon the condition that the loving and kindly treatment is wholly with the intention of earning the pleasure of the Almighty.


Attending to the needs of the widow and the destitute

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) relates that Rasulullah (S.A.W.) said, "Whoever strives to relieve the widow, the distressed and the needy, he is as one who does Jihad in the path of Allah (in terms of reward and blessings)"

In another version of the same hadith the Prophet is quoted to have said "He is as one who fasts continuously during the days and spends the nights in prayers."

Jihad is a deed of utmost merit in Islam, similarly the act of spending one's days in fasting and nights in prayer is greatly rewardable. But in the above hadith the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has stated that the same is the worth, value and reward of a person who takes pains to help the weak and needy or a helpless widow, by spending his wealth on them or by sincerely trying to draw the attention of others to their problems and difficulties.


Visiting the sick and feeding the hungry

In a hadith reported by Abu Moosa Ash'ari (R.A.), The Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Feed the hungry, visit the sick and free the captives."

Besides mention of feeding the hungry- which is a deed of compassion and kind-heartedness, this hadith also contains an injunction for visiting the sick and obtaining the freedom of those who are (unlawfully) held prisoners." In common terms visiting the sick' simply denotes enquiring after one's health but here (in Arabic) it is used in a broader sense and includes also the caring and arranging of treatment for the sick, if necessary, and if one is able to do so.
The rewards and blessing for these deeds is (once again) very great, and enviable indeed is the lot of those who feel for tie less fortunate brethren and are willing to help them in any possible manner.


Treatment of slaves and servants


(1) General teachings of the Prophet (S.A.W.)

Slavery was a common practice in Arabia, and almost all over the world, before the time of Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W.). Victorious nations of the time considered the people captured by them, in battle, as a "commodity" - not as human beings - and used them mercilessly for their own advantage.

The beloved Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) urged and encouraged the people to free the slaves, by declaring the freeing of slaves an act of highest virtue and an act by which sins are forgiven. On the other hand he enjoined on all not to drive them like animals. He explained that their basic needs, like food and clothing should be taken care of in a deserving manner.

He, in fact, constantly warned the Muslims that they will be called to account, in the hereafter, if they failed in their duty to be just and merciful to the slaves and servants. He emphasised this to such an extent that it is reported by Ali (.R.A.) that the last words, spoken by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), (at the time of his death) were, "Observe Salaah (the prayers), Observe Salaah And fear Allah with regards to your slaves and servants."

This shows the importance that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) attached to their rights - that he even stressed its significance upon his followers at the time of his departure from this world.

History tells that the entire course of the lives of slaves and servants was transformed, as a result of these teachings, and their human dignity was restored to them.

Many of them rose to be great scholars and leaders holding high posts of office. Eventually the whole world was influenced by this guidance and slavery became a thing of the past.


(2) Kind and merciful treatment

It is related by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) that Rasulullah (S.A.W.) said, "Food and dress are the right of the slave and he should not be assigned to task which may be beyond his capacity."

These points constitute the fundamental rights of slaves and servants- that one should fulfil their basic need for food and clothing in kindness and should be merciful in assigning any work to them.

In another hadith, the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said, "They are your brothers (the slaves and servants). Allah has placed them under your authority. So he who has a brother under him should feed him and clothe him as he himself does, and should not take from him any work that is beyond his power. If he does tell him to do such work then he should also join in it - (and help him).

Here the slaves and servants have been declared to be the brothers of their masters, and therefore deserve treatment like brothers - are not both of them, servant and master, the children of Adam, after all!

In yet another striking hadith, Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "When your slave or servant prepares food for you and lays it for you - while he has suffered the inconvenience of heat and smoke when cooking - you should ask him to sit down and share the meal. If the food is in a small quantity (and cannot suffice) at least give him a morsel or two there from (at least a little).


(3) Policy of forgiveness

Furthermore Rasulullah (S.A.W.) constantly emphasised the need to adopt a policy of forgiveness with servants - This is very clear from the hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar (R.A.) that once a person came to the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) and asked "O Prophet of Allah! To what extent should we forgive the mistakes and faults of our slaves and servants?" The Prophet (S.A.W.) remained silent whereupon the man repeated this question. The Prophet (S.A.W.) again, remained silent and when the man asked for a third time, he replied "Seventy times a day.

Evidently the figure, seventy, does not denote the exact number here but a servant should be forgiven even if he makes a mistakes often. "Forgiving" in this hadith means that the punishment should not be inflicted on servants in a spirit of vengeance. But there is no harm, however, if they are taken to task with politeness in view of their correction - which would actually be for their own good.

Note:- On the occasion of this incident, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) remained silent when the question was asked for the first two times - this should be for the reason that he wanted the questioner to realise the redundancy of his enquiry. To forgive the mistakes of one's servants is an act of virtue which makes one deserving of Divine mercy, hence one should always be prepared to excuse their faults- as much as possible.


(4) Revenge and account to be taken for cruel treatment to slaves and servants.

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) relates that he heard the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) say "Whoever beats the slave or Servant unjustly, revenge will be taken from him on the Day of Judgement."

Abu Mas'ood (R.A.) narrates that "Once I was beating my slave when I heard a voice behind -(saying)" Oh Abu Mas'ood! Remember that Allah has a greater power and authority over you than you have over the poor slave" I turned around and saw that it was the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) whereupon I said "Oh Prophet of Allah - he is now free for the sake of Allah (I have set him free)." The Prophet (S.A.W.) observed that "Be informed that had you not done so (i.e. set him free) you would be consumed in the fire of Hell!"


(5) Loyalty of slaves and servants to their masters

Whilst enjoining the masters to be fair and generous in their treatment of the slaves and servants, The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) also emphasised upon the slaves and servants their duty to remain faithful to their masters.
The Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said, “It is a matter of great success and good fortune for a slave or servant that Allah raises him from this world (gives him death) in a state that he is a worshipper of the Creator and he is loyal to his master.

In another hadith related by Abdullah ibn U mar(R.A.), the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "When a slave or servant is faithful to his master and also worships his Creator, he is deserving of a double reward (in the hereafter).
The principal feature of The Holy Prophet's teachings is that he urges each class and individual to fulfil the rights of others with a full sense of responsibility and consider it a source of good fortune in both the worlds. He, thus, enjoins upon the masters to fear Allah in respect of their slaves and servants, (by treating them fairly and kindly) and he enjoins upon the slaves and servants to be loyal and sincere to their masters.


Behaviour of the old and young towards each other

In every society there are some members who are senior in age and others who are junior to them. The Beloved Prophet (S.A.W.) has, also, explained (in his teachings) what their mutual behaviour should be. Stated below are a few Ahadith regarding this aspect of social conduct, which may appear insignificant to some people, but plays an important part in promoting a happy and peaceful life, both at family and community levels.

In one hadith the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have stated that "He is not of us, who is not affectionate to those who are younger than him and is not respectful to those who are older." In another hadith he said, "Whoever does not show affection to the young, and respect to the old, is not one of us."

The occasion for the stating of the second hadith, as related by Anas (R.A.) was once when an elderly person came to meet Rasulullah (S.A.W.) and the people present in the gathering took some time to make way (clear a path in their midst) for him to go up to the Prophet (S.A.W.)- i.e. they did not move quickly enough as the old person's age would have required.

Therefore, these Ahadith show that anyone who wishes to remain attached to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and his faith should treat those who are younger, to him, with affection and mercy, and those who are older with respect and honour.

It is related by Anas (RA.) that the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) said "For the young man who will honour an old man because of his age, Allah will appoint men who will honour him in his old age.

This hadith explains that, although the reward for showing good manners and respect to one's elders will be in the Hereafter, the Almighty bestows His favours to such people in this world too.

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18. RIGHTS OF ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD

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The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), like all earlier Apostles, was chosen and bestowed with Divine Faith and Heavenly Guidance. Those who responded to his call by accepting his Message, naturally, went to form a separate community - which came to be known an "Ummat-um-Muslimah'' the Islamic Fraternity and Brotherhood.

During the Prophet's lifetime, the Ummah served as his right hand assisting him in the preaching and propagation of the Islamic Faith to mankind. After his death, the Ummah had to fulfil this sacred mission, till the end of time, as his "deputy." The fulfilment of this responsibility not only requires possession of qualities of firm belief, devotion to Allah Almighty, piety, righteousness, enthusiasm etc., but also strong bond of unity amongst the members, of the Ummah - where their hearts remain united and they act like a single body. They should behave like a fraternity, bound together by ties of religious solidarity, brotherly love and kind feelings. If, on the other hand, the Muslims were to be divided among themselves, and if instead of unity and solidarity there is a discord and disunity, they cannot be regarded as worthy of such a task.

Due to this very reason, the Prophet (S.A.W.) took special pains to stress upon the members and different classes of the Ummah (i.e. all Muslims), the need to behave towards each other as brothers- helping one another fulfilling the claims arising from the common bond of Islam. This emphasis by Rasulullah (S.A.W.) was all the more necessary because the Ummah includes people from various countries, races, tribes and social ranks, each with their own ethnic, cultural, linguistic or temperamental features.


Islamic Unity Enlikened To a Strong Building

It is related by Abu Moosa Ash'ari (R.A.) that The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said "The connection between Muslims is like that of a strong building - one part strengthens another." The Prophet (S.A.W.) then showed this by interlocking the fingers of one hand with those of the other (that Muslims should remain united and combined - thereby streghthening one another).

In the above hadith, by enlikening Muslim unity to a strong building, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has in effect urged the Ummah to form a fortress by uniting where each Muslim will be a "brick" and the closeness and coherence amongst Muslims should be like that of bricks in a building. He then demonstrated, interlocking the fingers of both hands that the Muslims should remain together and blend into a single body.

In a hadith, narrated by No'man Ibn Bashir (R.A.) the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said that "The Muslims(the Ummah) are like the limbs of a man, where if the eye hurts the whole body feels pain and if the head hurts, the whole body feels pain and suffering.

This hadith, also seeks to emphasise the desired unity of the Ummah. "All for one and one for all" should be the Muslims' motto. They should be prepared to assist one another and even share the sorrows and problems of each other. In fact, in yet an other hadith mention is made of the fact that just as it is necessary for a believer(Muslim) to be loyal and devoted to Allah, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), the Holy Qur’an and the Islamic government; it is an essential condition, for being a faithful Believer, not to remain indifferent to the difficulties and problems of the Muslims but to take a genuine interest in them. As related by Huzaifah (R.A.) the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Whoever does not take an interest in the affairs and problems of the Muslims, he is not of them. And whoever's state is such that, each morning and evening, he is not loyal and earnest to Allah, his Apostle, His Book, the Islamic ruler and towards the Muslims, as a whole, he is not of them. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was so stem with regards to the mutual relationship of Muslims, that he even took pledges for brotherly feeling and sincerity towards all Muslims.

It is related by Jabir Ibn Abdullah (R.A.) that he said "I had taken a pledge at the hand of Rasulullah (S.A.W.) to observe Salaah (prayers), to pay Zakaah (charity due) and to be a sincere well-wisher of every Muslim." The Fact that the Prophet (S.A.W.) took the pledge or promise from the companions, for being a sincere well-wisher of the Muslims together with that of observing Swalaah and Zakaah which are important pillars of Islam - shows the importance attached by him to the matter.


Some Special Rights and Claims

Besides the general kind treatment, brotherly love etc. to be extended to fellow Muslims, there are certain specific rights and claims to be fulfilled.

It is related by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "There are five claims of a Muslim upon a Muslim: to return his greetings when he greets; to visit him when he falls ill; to attend his funeral; to accept his invitation to a meal and to pray for him, when he sneezes, by saying 'yarhamukallah'(May the mercy of Allah be on you)."

The five things mentioned in the hadith are acts which not only give expression to, but also promote brotherly feelings between Muslims and therefore a special attention should be paid to them. In another report, some other acts are specified too - which shows that the claims described here are by way of example only and not conclusive.

Anas (R.A.) reports that Rasulullah (S.A.W.) once said "I swear by the Holy Being in whose power my life is, any one of you cannot be a true believer unless he desires for his fellow-brother what he desires for himself.

To feel earnestly for a Muslim brother, to the extent of preferring for him what one prefers for oneself has been classed as a prerequisite for complete faith. So, anyone who claims to be a Muslim, but is lacking in this aspect, he in fact does not possess the reality of Faith (Iman).


Defending The Honour of A Muslim

The honour and dignity of a Muslim is precious in the sight of the Almighty and therefore it is a grave sin to abstain from defending and protecting it, let alone disgracing him or treating him disrespectfully. The defence of a Muslim's honour, when it is at stake, is in fact a virtuous and rewardable deed as explained in the hadith related by Jabir (R.A.), that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "The Muslim who forsakes a fellow Muslim brother(and does not come to his assistance) at a time when his honour is at stake, will be denied the help of Allah when he is greatly in need of it, whereas the Muslim who stands by a fellow Muslim at a time when his honour is at stake, - Allah will grant him His assistance when he will need it most."

In another hadith, reported by Abdullah Ibn Umar (R.A.) the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Every Muslim is the brother of a Muslim, he should neither harm him, nor should he leave him alone when others treat him unjustly (he should help him). Whoever will fulfil the need of a fellow brother, Allah will fulfil his need, and whoever removes the distress of a fellow Muslim, Allah will remove his distress on the Day of Judgement, and whoever will hide (keep secret) the faults (and shame) of a fellow Muslim, Allah will keep his sins secret on the Day of Account."

Both these reports show the value and respect that should be attached to the honour and good name of a Muslim.


A Muslim is like a Mirror unto a fellow Muslim

Abu Hurairah(R.A.) relates that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "A Believer is a mirror to a fellow-believer and he is his brother, he removes his defect (or deficiency) and guards him from behind. (In cases where he is unaware etc.)." Just as a mirror reflects every blemish on the face of a person (and shows it to him), similarly every believing Muslim should act as a mirror to his fellow-brother by informing him of any faults or weakness that he may observe in him. He should do this with a sincere heart and, as explained in the previous section, should most definitely refrain from spreading this to anyone else (i.e. he should keep it secret). And since the hadith classes the fellow-believer as his brother, it will be his duty to protect him, to the best of his ability, from any evil or danger, that he may be unaware of.


Mutual Hatred, Jealousy, Back-biting etc., is strictly Forbidden

The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) strongly condemned acts which create mutual hatred like suspicion, contempt, jealousy, backbiting etc. and warned the Ummah, in all earnestness, against the painful consequences of suck habits.

It is related by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) that The Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) said "Do not be suspicious, for suspicion is the height of falsehood, nor bear a grudge or enmity against each other, nor be jealous of each other, nor indulge in backbiting nor dig into secrets of one another, nor try to (unreasonably) excel one another, but 0 Bondmen of Allah! Live like brothers as the Lord has commanded.

The evils mentioned above are highly detrimental to the growth of good and friendly relations. They cause ill-will and produce bitterness in the hearts. They breed hatred and enmity and leave no room for the development of goodwill and fellowship which the common religious bond demands.

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19. DUTIES TO ALL OTHER CREATED BEINGS

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In the foregoing sections, those Ahadith and instructions were discussed which govern the mutual behaviour of Muslims. The Holy Prophet's (S.A.W.) teachings and sayings also deal with the manner of our conduct in respect to all mankind and even the other creatures of Allah Almighty.

It is related by Jareer Ibn Abdullah (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said "Those whose hearts are devoid of mercy for others, will not obtain the mercy of Allah."

The word "others" used in the hadith, includes not only the Muslims but the non-believers too. Everyone, indeed, has a claim to kindness and compassion, no matter what class or community he may belong to. True, sympathy and kindness towards the non-believers and wrong-doers, however, would demand that first of all, a sorrow and concern is felt in the heart at their plight and transgression and an effort is made to save them. Besides this, in cases of physical or worldly want and suffering, we are commanded to be kind and helpful to them.

This hadith actually imparts a stern warning to those who do not treat their fellow-men with kindness and compassion and remain indifferent to their needs end difficulties.

In another hadith, narrated by Abdullah Ibn Amr (R.A.) the Prophet (S.A.W.) is reported to have said "The Most-Merciful(i.e. Allah)will have mercy on those who are merciful. Show compassion to the dwellers of the earth, then the One who dwells in the heavens (Allah) will show compassion to you!"

A strong emphasis to show kindness and mercy to all the creatures of Allah on earth, with whom one comes into contact, is contained in the hadith. It first tells that there will be a special mercy of Allah on those who are merciful and then gives assurance that the Almighty will show compassion to those who are compassionate to His creatures. This emphasis, to show kindness and compassion to the "dwellers of the earth", not only includes men of all faiths and nationalities, but also the animals and other creatures.

A similar hadith has been reported by Anas (R.A.) and Abdullah Ibn Masud (R.A.) - The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "All creatures are the 'Ayaal' (family) of Allah. The most beloved to Allah, amongst His creatures, is the one who is good to His 'Ayaal' (family - i.e. creatures).

Those who are dependent on a person for the necessities of life (like food, clothing etc.) are called his'Ayaal'. Therefore, in this regard, all the created beings are the 'Ayaal' of the Creator - Allah. He is the sole Cherisher and Sustainer. The above hadith, thus explains that whoever shows kindness and sympathy to the creatures of Allah will be deserving of His love and mercy.


Kindness to Animals

The Holy Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W.), like the earlier Prophets, permitted the use of those animals created for the purpose of riding or carrying loads and permitted the use of flesh of those animals which have been declared clean for food. This actually, is a blessing of Allah Almighty and is in accordance with His commands. But at the same time, as explained earlier, these creatures should be treated with kindness and mercy.

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) related the narration of the Prophet (S.A.W.): "Once, a traveller (during the course of his journey) came upon a well. Feeling thirsty, he went down into it- drank water and came out. (There was no rope nor bucket). On coming out he saw a dog that was licking the wet earth (around the well). The man took pity and went down(into the well- again), filled his boot, held it by the teeth, came out an d gave water to t he dog to drink. This (simple) service to the thirsty dog pleased Allah to an extent that He blessed the man with salvation (forgave him all his sins)". Abu Hurairah (R.A.) says that upon hearing this, the companions (sahabah) enquired "Oh, Prophet of Allah is there a reward for us even on removing the distress of animals?" "Yes" replied the Prophet (S.A.W.) "(in fact) on removing the distress of every living being!"

The mercy and benevolence of the Almighty is stirred by the display of such deeds of pity and sympathy- due to which He grants forgiveness and salvation. It should be noted here that the aim of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was not merely to narrate the story, but to stress the importance of kindness and compassion to all the creatures of Allah - even to a dog!


Severity of Cruelty to Creatures

The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), on the one hand emphasised that all creatures of Allah be treated kindly, and on the other hand warned against cruelty to them explaining that to unnecessarily inflict pain on the creatures is a great sin.

It is reported by Suhail Ibn Hanzaliyyah (R.A.) that Rasulullah (S.A.W.) once came upon a camel whose belly had shrunk to its back (due to starvation). On seeing it he remarked, "Oh people! Fear Allah with regards to the dumb animals. (i.e. Do not starve them like this). Ride them while they are in good condition (i.e. well fed) and when you leave them, leave them in the condition that they are well!"

The moral of the hadith is that anyone who possesses an animal, should feed it properly and then take only as much work from it as it may bear(nothing beyond its endurance).

Jabir (R.A.) narrates that once The Holy Prophet(S.A.W.) saw a donkey that had been branded on the face, upon which he exclaimed "The person who has committed this (cruel) act is removed from the mercy of the Lord (Creator)."

As is still practised in many places, in those days it was customary to brand animals (like horses, donkeys, cows, etc.), with red-hot irons, as a mark of recognition. To brand the face of the animals, which is the most sensitive part of the body, by burning a mark on it, is definitely a most cruel act. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) felt deeply hurt on seeing that this had been done to the poor animal, which made him utter the above sentence. This surely was an expression of severe resentment against such cruelty!

In another hadith, related by Abdullah Ibn Umar(R.A.) the Prophet(S.A.W.) said "A certain cruel, hard - hearted woman will be cast into Hell, (simply) because of (her cruelty to) her cat. She held it is captivity until it died (due to starvation). She neither gave it anything to eat, nor set it free so that it could feed on the worms and insects of the earth.

It is clear from this hadith that the cruelty to animals is most displeasing to Allah the Almighty, and it can lead one to hell!

These few Ahadith of the Prophet (S.A.W.) give an idea of the Islamic teachings concerning the treatment of animals - and all creatures, but, it should be remembered that these do not conflict with the command for killing poisonous creatures, such as snakes, scorpions etc. which is actually an act of service to men and to other creatures of Allah.

The world has, only recently, realised the need for the prevention of cruelty to animals, but our Holy Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W.) had taught this to mankind centuries ago!

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20. ABOUT ALLAH

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ATTRIBUTES OF ALLAH


There is no Allah but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him. He is ever awake. (II. 255).

No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is above all comprehension. (VI. 103).

Such is He, the Knower of all things, hidden and open, the Exalted, the Merciful. (XXXII. 6).

It is Allah Who forgives sins, accepts repentance, is strict in punishment, and has a long reach in all things. There is no Allah but He, to Him is the final goal. (XL. 3).

It is He Who is Allah in Heaven and Allah in earth, he is full of Wisdom and Knowledge. To Him belongs the dominions of the heavens and the earth, and all between them. With Him is the knowledge of the Hour of Judgement, and to Him you shall all be brought back (XLIII. 84-85).

It is He Who gives life and death. He has power over all things. He is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Immanent. He has full knowledge of all things. (LW. 23).

Allah is He than Whom there is no other god. He knows all things, both secret and open. He is Most Gracious, Most Merciful. (LIX. 22).

Allah is He than Whom there is no other god, the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace and Perfection, the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted, the Mighty, the Irresistible, the Supreme, above all partners (LIX. 23).

He is Allah the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. (LIX. 24).

He is Allah the One and Only, Allah the Eternal, Absolute. He begets not, nor is He begotten, and there is none like Him. (CXII. 14).


ALLAH-MOST BEAUTIFUL NAMES

Most beautiful names belong to Allah, and the believers are enjoined to call upon Allah by such beautiful names - Asma-ul-Husna. According to traditions there are 99 beautiful names of Allah.

The most beautiful names belong to God. So call Him by such names, but shun such men who refer to Him with profanity. What you do would be requited. (W. 180).

Call upon Allah. Call upon Rahman. By whatever beautiful name you call upon Him it is well, for to Him belong the most beautiful names. (XW. 110).

Allah; there is no god but He. To Him belongs the most beautiful names. (XX. 8).

He is Allah the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower. To Him belong the meet beautiful names. (LIX. 24).

ALLAH-THE OMNISCIENT

One of the attributes of Allah is that He is omniscient. He has perfect knowledge of all things hidden or open.

Of all things Allah has perfect knowledge. (II. 29).

Allah knows the secrets of heaven and earth, and He knows what you reveal and what you conceal. (II. 33).

Do not conceal evidence for Allah knows all that you do (II. 283).

Whether you show what is in your mind or conceal it, Allah is well aware of that and will call you to, account therefor. (II. 284).

From Allah verily, nothing is hidden on earth or in the heavens. (III.5).

Whatever you hide what is in your hearts or reveal it, Allah knows it all. He knows what is in the Heavens and what is on earth. (III. 29).

Allah knows well all the secrets of the heart.(II.119).

Allah knows what you hide and what you reveal and He knows the recompense which you earn by your deeds. (VI. 3).

With Allah are the keys of the unseen treasures that none know but He. He knows whatever there is on the earth and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but with His knowledge. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry of which He does not have knowledge. (VI. 59).

It is He Who takes your souls by night and has knowledge of all that you have done by day. (VL. 60).

Allah knows what you keep secret and what you make known. He is the Wise, well aware of all things. (VL. 73).

Allah knows best who stray from His Way. He knows best who they are that receive His guidance. (VI. 117).

Allah knows what every female womb bears, by how much the wombs fall short of their time. Every single thing is before His sight. (XIII. 8).

Allah knows the unseen and the seen. (XIII. 9).

It is the same to Him whether any of you conceal his speech or declare it openly, whether he lies hidden by night, or walks forth freely by day. (XIII.10).

Undoubtedly Allah knows what they conceal and what they reveal. (XVI. 23).

Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah alone. It is He Who sends down rain, and it is He Who knows what is in the womb. Nor does any one know what it is that he will earn on the morrow. Nor does any one know in what land he is to die. Verily with Allah is full knowledge and He is acquainted with all things. [XXI. 34).

He knows all that goes into the earth and all that comes out thereof; all that comes down from the sky and all that ascends thereto, (XXXN. 2).

Allah knows well the secrete of all hearts. (LXIV. 4).

ALLAH-THE PLANNER

When the Quraish of Mecca came to know that the Holy Prophet and his followers were planning migration to Madinah, they held a counsel of war and hit upon a plan. According to the plan, each section of the Quraish picked out its bravest young men. The young men from all the sections were to surround the house of the Holy Prophet by night. The plan was that when the Holy Prophet came out of the house in the morning, all the young men were to fall on the Holy Prophet and kill him.

Allah revealed the plot to the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet left Ali in his bed, and himself escaped along with Abu Bakr, and sought shelter in a cave in Mt. Thaur outside Mecca. This event is referred to in Sura VIII.

And remember when the disbelievers made their plan to confine you, or kill you, or expel you, they made their plans and Allah made His plan, and Allah is the best of Planners. (VIII. 30).

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21. THE LAST SERMON

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Delivered by Prophet Muhammad Sallalaho-Alayhi Wasallam in the Valley of Arafat.

"O people, perhaps you shall not see me again after this. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.

O people, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that he will indeed reckon your deeds. Allah has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived ...

Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things; so beware of following him in small things.

O people, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. It they abide by your rights, then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with anyone whom you do not approve, as well as never to commit adultery.

O people, listen to me in earnest, worship Allah, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadaan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to. You know that every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. You are all equal. Nobody has superiority over another except by piety and good action. Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer for your deeds. So beware do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

O people, no Prophet or Apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore O people, and understand my words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur'an and my example the Sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray. All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness O Allah, that I have conveyed your message to your people.